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Today's Magazine Roundup: SciAm and TNYRB

   Before the coming of the Internet, I tended to sit on my back porch and read stodgy old magazines like Scientific American and The New York Review of Books. But now, thanks to the miracle of the Internet and wireless access, I can sit on the back porch with my laptop and check out really cool sites on the Web, such as ... Scientific American and The New York Review of Books.

    John Rennie and his colleagues at SciAm not only put out a great magazine, but they somehow have time to blog. A peek at their new blog yields an interesting little scandal. SciAm threw some love to a scientist (their "Research Leader of the Year") who turned out to be a little bit of a liar.

    Today the SciAm site has a story about a two-mile-long ice core that shows that the current concentration of carbon dioxide is 27 percent higher than the very highest levels of CO2 at any time during the past 650,000 years. Moreover, the natural fluctuations in CO2 are relatively gradual, whereas the recent jump in CO2 -- surely caused by human beings and their various industrial activities -- represents an unprecedented spike.

    The SciAm site is a bit busy for my taste, and doesn't have the graphic beauty of the hard copy magazine, but I'll be back.

     Now, on to the New York Review of Books, where we find Updike on Van Gogh. Note this classic Updike couplet, the first sentence multi-layered, almost rambling, the second stripped to a simple, declarative observation:

    "In his paintings, the sunflowers, the workers' worn shoes, the famous chair (Vincent's Chair with His Pipe, 1888) seem indeed to have arrived from another world, as freshly and startlingly there as the annunciatory angel, full of their news. There is some artistic advantage in feeling like a stranger on earth."

    And then this passage, all the better in the hard copy of the magazine, where the clarity of the author's eye is backed up by an accompanying reproduction of Van Gogh's drawing of the wheatfield:

    'Wild Vegetation, its paper sheet almost completely covered by restless, hard-to-read wriggles of erratically fading ink, anticipates the "over-all" canvases of Abstract Expressionism. In Walled Wheat Field with Rising Sun--a drawing that, the catalog shrugs, might have preceded or followed its partner painting--the field hurtles toward the wall while a swollen sun emits concentric waves like a struck drumhead.'

    I love the NYRB because it dares to publish 10,000-word articles on people and things that most magazines would consider abstruse. A typical article is about some writer I've never even heard of, and it will begin with a line like, "Myron Farklesby, the premier scholar of 17th century Flemish horticulture, has just weighed in with a truly masterful Volume 2 of his projected six-volume history of the Bulbs of the Low Countries."

    For those hungry for yet another article on what's wrong with the news media, Michael Massing has weighed in with a two-parter. Here's one passage that may surprise people:

    "[N]ewspapers, for all their problems, remain huge moneymakers. In 2004, the industry's average profit margin was 20.5 percent. Some papers routinely earn in excess of 30 percent. By comparison, the average profit margin for the Fortune 500 in 2004 was about 6 percent. If the Los Angeles Times were allowed to operate at a 10 to 15 percent margin, John Carroll told me earlier this year, 'it would be a juggernaut.'"

By Joel Achenbach  |  November 28, 2005; 12:12 PM ET
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Main Entry: ab·struse
Pronunciation: &b-'strüs, ab-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin abstrusus, from past participle of abstrudere to conceal, from abs-, ab- + trudere to push -- more at THREAT
: difficult to comprehend : RECONDITE
- ab·struse·ly adverb
- ab·struse·ness noun

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 28, 2005 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"six-volume history of the bulbs of the low countries"! Ha!

That reminds me of a recurring sketch from an Australian TV comedy program in which two arty farty types discuss foreign and independent films with titles like "The Lint Gatherers of Lapland." After each film description is presented, one of the two will deadpan "I can hardly wait for that one" or a variation thereon.

[BTW, borderline typo that only a jackass would bother to point out: Fourth para, "The Sciam site" -- as opposed to SciAm. (I'm probably being foolishly consistent.)]

Posted by: Achenfan | November 28, 2005 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of 10,000-word articles, Joel, what turned out to be the final length of that piece you were working on last week? Can we have a hint yet about its subject?

Re: reading on your back porch. I've run across a few reader studies that suggest that reading on a computer screen is about 20% to 40% slower than on a dead tree version of the same thing. What's your experience of that? Are you getting less reading done on your laptop? Any boodlers got an opinion?

Ah, Updike. Nothing finer than his early short story/essay, "In Football Season" (hint to those not familiar: it ain't about football). Ditto "A & P" and "A Sense of Shelter."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 28, 2005 1:50 PM | Report abuse

As much as I love SciAm, their site leaves a lot to be desired.

are much better sites for Internet perusal for my money (ahem).

Nothing beats a big mug of decaf and the latest glossy dead-tree SciAm on a lazy Thursday evening, though.

Providing there's no college football, that is.


Posted by: bc | November 28, 2005 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The New York Review of Books is somewhat miraculous, really. What does it cost to produce it, and how many people actually read it?

Updike on Van Gogh--a perfect example of "American high culture": not snobby or inaccessible, but high quality art that means something to people. TNYRB is wonderful. Thanks for the link.

Posted by: Reader | November 28, 2005 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Sunday morning about 11 a.m., a big mug of decaf, and that morning's Book World, cover to cover (about an hour). Then the mag (Dilbert, Weingarten, Achenbach in that order, then whatever else looks interesting). (At noon, put on the Food channel to watch Giada De Laurentiis. At 12:30, switch to Fox for NFL pre-game. Cook world's best cold-weather lunch: tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Keep reading Post).


Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 28, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Over the Thanksgiving break I eschewed scientific reading in order to peruse some more spiritual texts, including Carlos Castaneda's "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge." Oh boy. I think I'd rather visit parallel universes by dreaming than by ingesting hallucinogenic plants -- less vomiting involved!

[Shameless change of topic, I know, but the 'boodle -- er, I mean the Raj -- was kind of slow.]

Posted by: Dreamer | November 28, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Here in Manhattan, Tom fan, "feh" is pronounced, well:

fe (with the e voiced as in hen, or men).

We use this word a lot, especially on the upper West Side. Figure that out.


Posted by: Detritus | November 28, 2005 2:15 PM | Report abuse

If a book is not reviewed by the TNYRB and it is reviewed everywhere else, then the book is either being hyped or derided, and not being discussed thoughtfully in print. Dillettantes huddle any given Sunday with their NYT Book Review, and end up with a whole lot of ideas about everything except whether or not to buy the book. That's because Armchair sophisticates reading the NYT are content to harumph about books as reviewed by a critic in a thousand words instead of reading anything themselves. But that's okay. There's a whole class of these douchebags that follow marching orders, and are more concerned with knowing how to talk about books than which books to read. TNYRB is thorough and engaging enough to reveal what is shit and what is not, without the uppity self-promoting ideology of a third-rate critic, the likes of which predominate in the NYT.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Well, you don't need to get so erected about this, Hank. Please.

Posted by: Detritus | November 28, 2005 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh, come on, Hank. More, more, tell us what you think.

Posted by: Omnigasm | November 28, 2005 2:21 PM | Report abuse

You must be one of those jerks.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Hank referred to my earlier roach story:
"If k-guy had cleaned his oven as a youngin', then the cafards wouldn't swarm up from the oven guts onto the open flame range."
without apparently reading it all. I specifically stated that this fiasco occurred on the day we took possession of the apartment. Perhaps if I had used more words...

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 28, 2005 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, I agree with you about Fox's pregame show, though I do miss Kimmel's bits.

Kimmel's MNF halftime bits were somewhat uneven at first, but they are getting better. He had me at "Leon Spinks" last week.

Dreamer, wow. Castaneda, I haven't thought about that guy since...

...was I saying something?


Posted by: bc | November 28, 2005 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Thousands more, eh?

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 28, 2005 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I feel like I am crumbling in your sight. please do not shame me.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 2:35 PM | Report abuse

If a book is not reviewed by the TNYRB and it is reviewed everywhere else, then the book is either being hyped or derided, and not being discussed thoughtfully in print. Dillettantes huddle any given Sunday with their NYT Book Review, and end up with a whole lot of ideas about everything except whether or not to buy the book. That's because Armchair sophisticates reading the NYT are content to harumph about books as reviewed by a critic in a thousand words instead of reading anything themselves. But that's okay. There's a whole class of these douchebags that follow marching orders, and are more concerned with knowing how to talk about books than which books to read. TNYRB is thorough and engaging enough to reveal what is shit and what is not, without the uppity self-promoting ideology of a third-rate critic, the likes of which predominate in the NYT.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 2:36 PM | Report abuse

eh? do you mean, perhaps, feh?

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I find I read more of the paper when I read it in print vs. online. For some reason, I get bored more easily when I'm reading things on the computer, whether online or in Adobe/Word/etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2005 2:36 PM | Report abuse

pardonnez moi for repeating myselves. I must be one of the couchebags I mentioned.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 2:37 PM | Report abuse

sorry, the above is me. I just wanted to add that it's interesting how this post appears a few days after the critique of the day's Post.

Posted by: JonL | November 28, 2005 2:39 PM | Report abuse

what do you mean "the above is me." I am not you. Are you taking credit or leveling lame at "Hank." spank me.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 2:41 PM | Report abuse

The comment: "You must be one of those jerks..." was not authored by me. Some lowly imposter.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 2:41 PM | Report abuse

well, what about the other posts that you authoried?

Posted by: Detritus | November 28, 2005 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Hank, your handle may have been hijacked for a minute. Kudos on keeping your good humor and moving on. And, welcome, by the way.

Posted by: CowTown | November 28, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to mention earlier that the wood louse aka sow bug aka pill bug aka roly poly is not insect- too many legs. It's an isopod. Another lousy Monday, feh.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 28, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Clearly there is some effort to discredit me or viewpoints. Fie on cetera! I never double-post. Only the trigger-happy do so. Call me double-tap.

TNYTB is good. They eviscerate Tom Friedman when the NYT will not. All little Tom boy wanted to do was sell some books. Too bad the world is not flat, while he is a pseudo-Marxist neo-conservative apologist.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I think Monsieur "Hank" needs to be disciplined for using some foul language in his long post.

Will Mrs. Achen Fann please administer it?

Posted by: feh-boy | November 28, 2005 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Hank, man, are you calling Thomas Friedman a commie? You need to be clear on this.

Posted by: Detritus | November 28, 2005 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Please tell me you're joking . . . *please*!


Posted by: Tom fan | November 28, 2005 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I did not send the 2:47 pm post. I am being mimicked--but never imitated.

Posted by: Detritus | November 28, 2005 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Tom Fan:

*Please* tell me that you *think* the cow man was snookered.


Posted by: Detritus | November 28, 2005 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I did not send the 2:51 post.

I think it was "Hank," but thank goodness he did call me nasty names.

Posted by: Detritus | November 28, 2005 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I was not snookered.

Posted by: cowbegone | November 28, 2005 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Thanks CowTown for your courtesy. I'm a southerner with a flair for scizophrenia qua The Blog. I failed to resist my Family Guy Stewie voice in the elaboration on the shoddiness of the NYT Book Review. There is no voice of the XY generation. And the world is not flat, despite Friedmans' dream of technology smothering culture.

Scandalized by four letter words, mes amis? We live in a country founded by Puritans and capitalists with guns, so I guess you have a good point.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:02 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't sh__ ___ but your prominent use of "douchebag" that caught my eye. We don't use that in this town, except for Republican Congressman who are pro war (any war).

Posted by: Detritus | November 28, 2005 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Well, I swannee! I'm confused and haven't eaten any funny mushrooms. Anyway, from a couple of boodles ago, happy belated Gotcha Day to Curmudgeon. My friend's daughter recently adopted a baby girl from the Ukraine. She and little Phillip Flavius (3 mos. old) stare and coo at each other.

Posted by: Nani | November 28, 2005 3:05 PM | Report abuse

time for a ...lullaby, Nani?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2005 3:07 PM | Report abuse

To the extent that ideology and technology can be assumed to prevail over religion, custom, and tradition, yes Friedman is a 'commie.' His reasoning to re-shape the Middle East and flatten the world in general is but a variation on the chain of ideas that Marx presupposed.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Hank -

Your post hadn't appeared when I wrote that. I was referring to the unnamed comment that appears just above yours.

Posted by: JonL | November 28, 2005 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Someone is being tiresome. If you have something to add, add it. If you're only able to subtract, then please scuttle back under the refrigerator.

Posted by: Tim | November 28, 2005 3:14 PM | Report abuse

For some reason, I tend to read American Scientist rather than Scientific American. More biology?

Some kind of record for willingness to combine very long stories with lots of images must belong to The Surfer's Journal. They don't accept much advertising, so the strategy must please the readers who pay the bills.

Posted by: Dave | November 28, 2005 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I just could never bring myself to read SciAm. I tried, way back in the 80's. It was always a sure cure for insomnia. We scientists are not, in general, the most felicitous of writers, and SciAm seemed to impose a house style guaranteed to make the articles even deadlier. Perhaps things have changed. I don't have enough time anymore to read much of anything for pure pleasure, so I'm unlikely to read SciAm unless a particularly interesting article is brought to my attention by someone who reads faster than me (a distinction that includes most educated persons).

Posted by: ScienceTim | November 28, 2005 3:22 PM | Report abuse


Someone is being scumsome. If you have something to add, add it. If you're only able to multiply, then please scuttle back into your douchebag and have at it.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

BTW, I read the Washington Post, but not its crummy book review section, which is full of fawning claptrap.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I did not generate the above two posts.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Fee-Fie-Foe-Fum someone left her transfer-RNA on ScienceTim's lapel.

I kid the scientist. Whose putative authority on all matters that involve more money than math ought be reckoned.

Tell me about PETscans. It's like a CTscan but right next to a particle accelerator that hurls positrons at the patient. Dose up on Fluoride19 so the anti-matter knows what it's doing when it bombards the human.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I did not write the 3:14 post.

My apologeez for any offense taken.

Posted by: Tim | November 28, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

My name is being discredited by ne'erdowells. Eff them. Everything between 3:07 and 3:28:40 is imposter rubbish.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse


Is the RNA like DNA, and was it a squirt, like on the blue velvet dress? How as it generated? Why? Why are you injecting this into this verbal gumbo?

Posted by: Detritus2 | November 28, 2005 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I totally deny, disown, and disavow the declaration of the fake "Hank" at 3:31:42. He is a well known scoundr'l, but his name is not Hank. It is *speedo* but they used to call him Mr. Earl.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I take full responsibility for all that I have done and admitted today, in great shame, including any offense given on this blogg.

Posted by: Duke Cunningham | November 28, 2005 3:38 PM | Report abuse

*contemplating breaking out the Anaesti-Dart gun to slow down the alleged outbreak of mimicry*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 28, 2005 3:38 PM | Report abuse

The main imposter assailing my identity appears to be settled in the belief that I care about Bill Clinton or Ronnie Earl. Sorry chap. I vote with my fingers, but not on the keyboard. Try me in the voting booth or on the farm with a Kalishnikov for finger behavior concerning politics.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:44 PM | Report abuse


Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

Are you now in the policing role?

Do you want to play global thermonuclear war?

Posted by: Duke | November 28, 2005 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Duke, Duke, Duke...

Joshua starts with "Do you want to play a game?"

Everyone knows this...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 28, 2005 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Faletto Hank,

You sound like a commie gun nut. Anyone can shoot an AK, but not everyone can make music and write poetry and feel the solft touch of interstitial moralgiamentos. So put down your gun, or your hand, and becaome a full human, like moi.

Posted by: Detritus2 | November 28, 2005 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Faletto Hank,

You sound like a commie gun nut. Anyone can shoot an AK, but not everyone can make music and write poetry and feel the solft touch of interstitial moralgiamentos. So put down your gun, or your hand, and becaome a full human, like moi.

Posted by: Detritus2 | November 28, 2005 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Interestingly, even some of the posts claiming that the author did not write an earlier obnoxious post are, in fact, posted by an impostor. At least, I know that I didn't post the 3:29:58 credited to me. An example of plain old hatred and destructiveness: "I have nothing worthwhile to add, and I am so filled with hatred against those who do, that I will make this forum useless so that they all will go away." Unfortunately, it is working. I have work to do, and a polluted Achenblog is not a positive contribution to my day, so I'm not inclined to take a break here until things settle down. Oh, well.

Posted by: Tim | November 28, 2005 3:49 PM | Report abuse

my Apologies fro the dubla-post

Posted by: D2 | November 28, 2005 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Cheers, Detritus. If you want poetry, sport, and God's beauty, I'll see you at the racetrack.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I was just going back to work myself.

I work in a freezer, moving meat, and it is unsual to have access to a puter and to your marvelous bulletin board.

I will be back as soon as the imposter leaves me alone -- and puts down his gun. Jeez, a gun, would yo believe it?

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Here's an interesting difference between on-line and carbon-based versions of newspapers/magazines, especially when we're talking about the NYTimes: when I see something interesting online, but I don't have time to read it right now, it raises my blood pressure because I'm aware that there is a time limit. Should I copy it to my hard drive or email a "print-friendly" version to myself? Will I have a chance to get back to it before it goes into the archive, accessible only via credit card?? It creates a sense of urgency, but the most likely outcome is that I will read the item very quickly, online, or else that I will not read it at all and experience a lingering feeling of disappointment/guilt/frustration. None of this happens with my magazines that come in the mailbox.

Posted by: Reader | November 28, 2005 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I found poetry, sport, and God's beauty in the person of one of he rapacious bloggettes on this channel.

And we are living happily enough for week no. 3 and talking about moving in together. She's too bashful to tell you this.

First affair fostered by this bblog, if you can call it that.

Posted by: D2 | November 28, 2005 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Petula Clark had a birthday this month. She is 73. This makes me feel old. The fact that many of you have no idea who Petula Clark is makes me feel even older. Feh.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 28, 2005 4:05 PM | Report abuse

As to mimicry, the poster of 3:53:36 is not I, just a one, among the rabble of those whose mothers nurse donkey genitalia.

In elementary school, I spent my afternoons in the cafeteria refrigerator vault retrieving milk cartons for schoolmates and the priests who learnt us wee tykes.

Southern Catholics learn the British Romantics in grade school about the same time that rifles fall into our hands. We can shoot straight at that jar on the hill.

According to Thomas Jefferson, we're 61 generations overdue a revolution in America. The South teaches to take those first two amendments seriously. And we know our effin' poets.

Posted by: Hank | November 28, 2005 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Main Entry: ra·pa·cious
Pronunciation: r&-'pA-sh&s
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin rapac-, rapax, from rapere to seize -- more at RAPID
1 : excessively grasping or covetous
2 : living on prey

"D2," you sure that's the word you want to use?

Posted by: CowTown | November 28, 2005 4:11 PM | Report abuse


I know who she his, can even hummm her hits, but I can't name them. She's about 15 years too old for you man. I hope that makes you feel young. Mos of the self-syled womin on this blog are about half your age, except for the ones who are particularly verbose., Sorry, girls, but I *love* u just the same.

Posted by: Golconda | November 28, 2005 4:12 PM | Report abuse


1--reminds me of the way defenses are raised against any newbies, aka interlopers, or at worst, imposters.

2--recalls for me the way they jump in some people's --it, i.e., those that don't toe the line.

3--sounds just right. they have a mostly been missing something.

So the adjective is apt, even though the pickins are few. I am one lucky guy/gal.

Posted by: D2 | November 28, 2005 4:16 PM | Report abuse


That's the only Petula Clark line I know...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 28, 2005 4:16 PM | Report abuse

You are sooooo right, Scotty, sir. You have a sharper LT memory than most of us here on the Alzheimer's ward.

I think Petula had a lobotomy or a mastectomy about 20 years ago. One of those. Kind of took the wind out of her sails. But she is an old favorite.

Posted by: D2 | November 28, 2005 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Reader, I had the reverse of the guilt you speak of. I'd get magazines and they'd pile up and then I'd hurry up and read them to get them read. It was like a reading assignment. So I cut back on the subscriptions. But I still read the local paper from front to back every day.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 28, 2005 4:31 PM | Report abuse


I agree with you about Scientific American's writing style. I used to play a game where I would read an article and count how many paragraphs it took to become complete gibberish to my layman's knowledge. The over/under was six paragraphs. I think SciAm used to coast on the fact that everybody loved Martin Gardner's games column and would read that and ignore the more somnambulistic articles.

For popular science, nothing matched the old Omni magazine which was literally Penthouse without the pictures or smutty letters. It also published great science fiction but went off the new-age/UFO deep end towards its final years.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 28, 2005 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Discovery magazine is the medium of choice for science lightweights like myself.

Posted by: CowTown | November 28, 2005 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Yes, OMNI was a great mag. I was a charter subcriber and read it to the very end.

Seems to have been a weird confab today, but the night is young.

Posted by: melvin/a | November 28, 2005 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Blog dead? Where blog?

Posted by: CowTown | November 28, 2005 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Petula Clark

Downtown; I Know a Place; Love, This Is My Song. As a sever or eight year old, I remember having a big crush on that lady.

Posted by: CowTown | November 28, 2005 5:20 PM | Report abuse

This would be a good spot, CT, to crank out a piece of fiction where an intrepid WP columnist meets a source in an insect-filled parking garage. Seeking a tip from his tipster named Gregor, who sounds like a cross between Hal Holbrooke and one of the characters from A Bugs Life, our columnist unwittingly buys some magazine subscriptions.

It'd be swell, but I just don't have the whole thing in me at the moment.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 28, 2005 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and they drink coffee while they're at it.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 28, 2005 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self: That's a tall order. It also sounds like a scene out of Men In Black. I'll consult with the gnomes.

Posted by: CowTown | November 28, 2005 5:30 PM | Report abuse

But would they discuss the critical highlights of WaPo as they drank coffee?

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 28, 2005 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and I only read Science for the pretty cover images...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 28, 2005 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Why do you write this dribble? The column stinks and for that matter so does the Washington Post. What this paper needs is a good editorial deodorant.

Too much online and printed B.O.

Posted by: The Lonemule | November 28, 2005 6:02 PM | Report abuse

The Lonemule

Thank you for joining the Comments section. Please be sure to review and comply with the Boodle Rules of Conduct, which discourages flaming, use of profanity, and personal attacks. Towels are available in the anteroom, and please, no glass containers. Thank you for your kind attention.

Posted by: CowTown | November 28, 2005 6:06 PM | Report abuse

We write this "dribble" because it's pleasant to have a conversation with people who understand that the word is "drivel." If you mean, "why does Joel write this [drivel]?" the answer is that it's because he's a funny guy, and he's being funny. If you feel that the only writing of quality is writing that is extremely serious and concerned only and entirely with matters of verifiable fact, then you should go read a reference library. Good luck with that. And if you mean "why does the WaPo insist on publishing reports on multiple sides in a debate, instead of just one side -- my side?" Well, there's already another daily newspaper in town that fulfills that role for conservatives; the City Paper does it for liberals; I don't know who fills the role for various other splinter groups.

Posted by: Tim | November 28, 2005 6:19 PM | Report abuse

We'd work in some of that WaPo stuff. Sure.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 28, 2005 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self meant to type in his own name, and not that of Scottynuke, in his 6:26:51 post. BS was trying to make his comments in response to Scottynuke. BS regrets the error.

Posted by: Bayou Self's Public Editor | November 28, 2005 6:30 PM | Report abuse

'drivel'? bitshag

Posted by: Anonymous | November 28, 2005 6:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't buy a lot of magazines, too much advertising. I'd rather take the same money and buy a book. That said, when I get the chanceI'd buy Discover, or if I can find it on a news stand, 'Beaver' magasine.

Get your mind out of the gutter people, its not what you are thinking. Its a magazine of Canadian History named for our national animal. They have had long serious disscussions with reader input, about the name, and they will keep it. It adds just a little something to the cachet of Canadian history.

Posted by: dr | November 28, 2005 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Yes, we know. And it's full of squamous tail.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 28, 2005 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Please note: If you agree with the following email and feel strongly that Woodward's actions warrant an immediate termination from the washington post as well as agree with the general state of the media, please sign your name at the bottom of the email under the signed section, and forward to as many people as possible and include in the CC field the following emails at the washington post:,,,,,

Let your voice be heard, this is an action that you can take to voice your dissatisfaction and frustration.

From Deep Throat to Cohort:
The Devolution of the American media

The last straw has just descended. The continued debasing of "journalism" has hit a nadir; a profession which is an integral part of our constitution, our way of life, the very fabric of the American ideal has finally disintegrated. We are left with a press toothless, courage less, and faithless in the pursuit of truth. Bob Woodward, the iconic reporter, has devolved into a willing accomplice of the ruling elite. This truly is a sad day for journalism; a sadder day yet for America.

What was revealed should send shockwaves throughout the world. We have witnessed the unmasking of the conglomerate behind the so-called free press, whose only desire is chasing profits instead of leads. Bob Woodward, evidently selling his soul to gain "access" to the White House, is an active participant in the continuing lie perpetrated on the American people. A man whose very job is to expose lies, has instead been lying to the very public he is supposed to serve. While most reporters and journalists refuse to name sources to better serve the public, Woodward instead tells us that he did not want to tell the truth about who the original source of this leak is in order to protect himself from having to testify in front of a grand jury--courage indeed. Has it come to this, a reporter lying about a source, not to protect the public's right to know, but, rather, to deny it. What a disgrace! My hero exposed for what he is: a lying sycophant more interested in self preservation and the preservation of his access to power. After two years of lying, he finally owns up to his deception and reveals that someone in the White House did in fact speak to him two years ago about the Valerie Plame. He acknowledges this after going on talk shows dismissing the gravity of the case; erstwhile being a willing co-conspirator. How convenient that this "confession" aids an accused criminal, one Louis Libby--does the word aiding and abetting sink in yet?

The truth is that Woodward's actions are symptomatic of the general state of the press. Reporters have morphed into a tool of power instead of speaking truth to it. In the obsession to "make news", reporters jumped in the bed of the very people they are supposed to be keeping honest. Moreover, companies such as the new york times and the washington post have embedded in their employees the notion that breadth of reporting is more important than depth of reporting. In the mad dash to capture market share, the modern day news media has settled on a vision of capturing the most amount of readers while making sure to coddle the ruling elite. Sure they will report of some senator who cheated on his wife, but will ignore the actions of the very institution that senator works in that cheats their constituents. News has turned into a snapshot of events which can capture the most attention, instead of a continuous effort to educate and cultivate an informed public. Obsessed with gaining access to news makers, the news media has transformed into whores of the powerful, turning tricks to get two minutes of pleasure with the very people they are supposed to keep in check. Sound bites that tell us nothing, rhetoric reported as news, truth forsaken for an intangible balance. On a scale of news, truth has no balance and counterbalance; truth stands on its own. Yet the state of today's news media is that of a meek poodle, yelping at its master for a crumb from the table. And they wonder why subscriptions have fallen off, it's because those you serve are seeing more and more that you are Judas to the public. Unable to bear the cross of truth, you instead sell out for the nearest shekel. Reporters who no longer see the profession as a crusade against tyranny, instead you seek it as a way to get your spot on the stage. Journalists who are more eager to stand in front of the microphone instead of behind it, the silent tool of truth transformed into publicity hounds while you try to land on the new york journal best seller list. Think about that next time you are talking to your agent on a new book deal. For those who might have true passion for journalism, ask yourself if you are really doing today what you came into the business to accomplish when you were in college. For those that have always seen journalism as a means of acclaim, I truly hope that the day will come where you are torn down by your own lack of scruples.

All this leads back to Bob Woodward. From this day on, I urge all readers and subscribers of the washington post to cancel their subscription TODAY. It pains me that a great paper like the washington post has been reduced to enabling an admitted liar and in the end justifying his stance. Until Woodward has been summarily dismissed from the washington post payroll, a full accounting given of what he testified about to the grand jury, and a full page apology given to the readers, I will NEVER pick up another washington post newspaper again. I have already cancelled my subscription and urge all other readers to do the same until the washington post have resolved this situation as described above. I urge all readers to cease and desist visiting the, and I urge all businesses that stand for honor and intergrity to stop selling the paper forthwith until a full accounting is given. There is one weapon that the consumer, vote with your wallet and starve the washington post of its revenue; it seems that is the only way to get a whore's attention.

Posted by: | November 28, 2005 9:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm honored to be mistaken for BS...


Posted by: Scottynuke | November 28, 2005 9:34 PM | Report abuse

It seems FW missed the Boodle Rules of Conduct about flaming and spamming... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 28, 2005 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh, wait, it's obvious FW has never read the Boodle before, as we've rehashed Woodward time and again...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 28, 2005 9:43 PM | Report abuse

every time JA tries to start up a serious discussion of Myron Farklesby, it leads to a snarl of squamous tail

Posted by: kp | November 28, 2005 10:05 PM | Report abuse

no stodgy magazine review would be complete without mentioning Foreign Affairs and The National Interest. While I don't usually agree with the latter, they both render an easy-to-understand subject such as international relations virtually impenetrable. Although it was kind of fun to see Francis Fukuyama take Krauthammer to the woodshed. And as for the former, nothing says "stodgy" like the Council on Foreign Relations

Posted by: JonL | November 28, 2005 11:17 PM | Report abuse

...noticed the mention of was
often a magrack pick...had a nice blend
of qualities.....had a stack of them
somewhere....may have a few still in the
far depths of longterm storage..........
the problem with paperprint mags being
they take up lots of space with extended
subscriptions...and have weight penalties
when moved about...similar to books or LP
records...but are fun to resurvey once in
the great while...archival time reminders
being what they be........:-)...........

Posted by: an american in siam... | November 29, 2005 7:04 AM | Report abuse

I think that this boodle (er, Raj?) is proof positive of Truscott's first and last theorem: no discussion group can exist without an irracible troll. Hitherto UUCP, these were known as ne'er-do-wells. In this case, I'd say that what we have borders on scalawag.

Posted by: irregardless | November 29, 2005 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Growing up, we read Look, Life and the Saturday Evening Post. It was always fun to see Norman Rockwell's covers, although now they look rather corny, but sweet. I'm old enough to remember that photo of the sailor kissing the girl at war's end. I don't read many magazines now because they are so expensive. A neighbor threw out stacks of National Geographic which I confiscated and read to the grand-younguns. We go to the library every other Saturday. I like to read the classics and have developed a hardback library to leave to the kiddos. I've been reading the WP and Joel's columns online for 3-4 years now. This blog is a wonderful place to learn, to think about both sides of issues whereas before I only looked at my view of things. There are so many talented writers! I wish I could better articulate my appreciation.

Mother said writers reveal more of themselves than their subjects, so even though I post often, I'm pretty shy about it.

Now, I have a question. Many boodlers have said we should pull out of the war; others have said to do so would have catastrophic results. I need to understand why we cannot. Will someone please explain to me why we cannot end this war now.

About Bob Woodward. I read his book on John Belushi and cannot recall one positive anecdote. It seemed to me that Woodward intensely disliked Belushi. Surely the man, so talented, had some sweetness and good in him.

Thank you for all the kits and kaboodles.

Posted by: Nani | November 29, 2005 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Nani, as I understand it, there is a great fear that the US pulling out of Iraq before there is a stable government capable of maintaining civil order would result that part of the world descending into chaos as various factions (political, religious, etc.) warred with each over for control of "promised lands", resources (oil, farmland), infrastructure, and anything else deemed valuable.

One gentleman soldier I know said the cost in human suffering and destruction would "make the Balkans look like Club Med", and mentioned "potentially hundreds of thousands of casualties".

I have little basis for ascertaining whether or not those assertions are correct, but it seems many people hold these beliefs, and they point to the continuing insurgent violence in Iraq as proof, asking, "How much worse would it be if we weren't there?" Again, I don't know.

Anyway, Nani, those are arguments I've heard.


Posted by: bc | November 29, 2005 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Thank you bc. If we had not initiated the war, would the descension into chaos have occurred? Or, were they already at war and we joined in? To help? Sorry if these are dumb questions, but I'm guilty of sticking my head in the sand to avoid unpleasant subjects and feel it's time to face what's really going on.

Some good news. Yesterday, the first public school in New Orleans since Katrina re-opened and 5 more are scheduled to open next month.

Posted by: Nani | November 29, 2005 9:57 AM | Report abuse

The TV show Le Femme Nikita had an episode where Nikita discovered that her agency was secretly keeping Hussein in power. She confronted her boss and he told her to check the simulations on what would happen if Iraq fell. Islamic jihadism, civil war, terrorism, etc. He explained that what looked like supporting evil was actually less dangerous and chaotic than the alternative. I wish Rummy, Bremer, Wolfie, and their group had been fans of this show.

Life imitates art.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 29, 2005 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I really don't want to play cop here, so anyone who wishes to jab at other boodlers or use vulgar language, please go somewhere else.

Nani, I have heard this morning that Joe Lieberman has an op-ed in the WSJ outlining why (in his opinion) it would be a disaster to pull out now. I'll try to track it down in a bit.

About the Fire Woodward idea: The sanctimony and hysteria of the anonymous commenter is ridiculous. Gosh I wish I had a penny for every person who is eager to deliver a lecture on the nature of good journalism without ever having had the experience of developing a source or writing an article or even jotting down a quote in a notebook.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 29, 2005 10:08 AM | Report abuse

ack!!! i miss my boodle! too busy to boodle lately, sorry guys! but i wanted to pop in and say hi!

joel - i LOVED the rough draft! "there's a man in my room" *giggle*

i cannot subscribe to magazines anymore - they pile up in the living room and i don't read them, then i feel guilty for not reading them and wasting money on them - the whole thing is just too stressful!

Posted by: mo | November 29, 2005 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Am surprised at your reclama re the difficulties of journalism. That is, of couse, why you get paid and we read the product. If it were easy, everyone would e doing it, and maybe some bloggers are proving that point.

And remember, we are all anonymous here, right? So why imply a negative by use of the adjective?

Although it is not in vogue in places like the WH or NYT or the Pentagon, the Wa Po could break some new ground and fire people for gross negligence.

It happens all the time, and you don't have enough editors to easily catch the Jason Blairs of the world or in DC, or, worse yet the more experienced reporter who knows how to exploit the gray areas. You have to admit that there must be some in an organization like the Post, even now. Their impact is hidden until something blows up.

Firing BW is extreme, in my view, but we need some accountability in and from your business.
Maybe humorists and columnists and blog fuhrers should be exempt, but I ask myself why?

Posted by: Sometime Fan | November 29, 2005 10:23 AM | Report abuse

oops - i kilt the boodle... guess i shoulda stayed away... i just didn't want you guys to forget about me! sorry...

Posted by: mo | November 29, 2005 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I agree with bc.

I was against the war from its runup and I have been disappointed and dismayed by its execution. This war has been one of supreme arrogance and falsehoods. The hubris that divined and executed the war could very well spell the turning point for our nation, and at the least, the modern conservative movement. Being a conservative, this all makes me profoundly disillusioned and angry.

Nonetheless, to pull out in one-fell-swoop seems to be throwing the baby nation out with the bath water. I agree with all that bc wrote above. The risk far outweighs any gains. We must see it to the horrible, bitter end. Obama probably spelled out the only reasonable way that our nation can find that end, by openly facing facts and then preparing for the turmoil and sacrifice. As Powell said, "you break it, you own it."

Interesting point about by Nani about BWoodie's Belushi book. I never new the real Belushi, but that book is totally enthralling. If it is a characterization of his worst traits, I still think it is a good book.

My big beef with BWoodie is that he went from a guy exploiting and exposing corruption to a guy exploiting and hiding corruption. Both faces reveal a selfish and destructive man. Perhaps that is why he focused so heavily on these charactertistics in Belushi. After all, do we not dwell on the faults of others that most resemble the weaknesses of ourselves?

Posted by: irregardless | November 29, 2005 10:27 AM | Report abuse

This made me laugh this morning, although I don't claim it's tasteful:

Posted by: Reader | November 29, 2005 10:28 AM | Report abuse

While not commenting directly on Woodward, I would like to point out that Joel is right about many of the crtitics. We do seem to have a goodly number of self-proclaimed adjunct professors of journalism roaming the landscape these days.

Posted by: Bayou Self's Public Editor | November 29, 2005 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Hey, mo!
One week to BPH, ma'am (did we ever decide where?).

Nani, many would posit that a Iraq, a rather ethnically and religiously diverse country, was held together by a ruthless dictator who did not hesitate to make examples of those individuals or groups he felt did not 'toe the line', up to and including mass murder. It's hard to argue the point that Saddam's strongarm policies held any conflicts between the diverse Iraqi population forestalled any open conflict between groups.

Saddam was positioning his sons to take over the government when he was no longer "President" (in whatever manner that occurred). Again, it's difficult to know what would have happened in that event.

I'm curious to read that piece by Lieberman, Joel. Thanks.


Posted by: bc | November 29, 2005 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Reader!

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 10:35 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "religiously" ain't a word (is it?), but you know what I mean.

I think.



Posted by: bc | November 29, 2005 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Mo, you didn't kill the boodle. And, Nani, the issue of Iraq is a thorny one. People, including our government representatives, have been all over the map on this war.

Personally, I have opposed it from before its beginning. Have written to my Connecticut rep's in the House and the Senate before the war, as well as to Senators Byrd, Kennedy, et al, and to President Bush. I have demonstrated, signed petitions, and continue to contact my rep's. It's difficult to figure out if by setting a timetable it would hurt or help the Iraqi people and our own troops, but it has to come to an end.

I have friends who have sons that are Marines, and in the Army over there and even they are now dismayed, based on what their children are telling them.

I think Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania did a courageous thing by standing up several days ago--and he's certainly no "bleeding heart" liberal. He has a strong knowledge of, and alliance with our military, and I think his courage will nudge us closer to ending this debacle.

That's my two cents as a private citizen. I respect the right of others to--politely--disagree. That is what makes our far from perfect nation still the best--the safeguard of free expression and opinion, and the oppportunity to participate in our government at the local, state, and national level.

Posted by: aroc | November 29, 2005 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I, too, have been a journalist, though not at Fearless Leader's level. I wholeheartedly agree there are those with no knowledge of the craft who nonetheless feel qualified to pass judgement.

And Sometimes Fan, the FW poster had all the hallmarks of a one-off blog spammer -- even more anonymous than most of us.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 10:46 AM | Report abuse

mo - Hello, and welcome back. Visit more often, will ya?

Joel - Thanks for policing the Boodle. We try to do it ourselves, but sometimes the Boss has to come in and spank a few people.

Nani - Happy Thanksgiving. My Two Cents: I agree with the idea endorsed by Russ Feingold of Wisconsin to create a timetable for an ordered withdrawl from Iraq. No one wants to see Iraq fall into chaos, but many of us in the political center are skeptical of the Bush Administration's capacity to create a stable, democratic government in Iraq, given their performance in conducting the war. A timetable, while problematic, puts a fire under the Administration to optimize its military, economic, and diplomatic resources to promote a stable Iraq. "Staying the course" is not a satisfactory option given this administration's performance history.

As for Woodward, I don't understand all the vitriol against him. He's a journalist, not an elected official. He has no access to the public purse, nor any capacity to start a war. If he screws up, he diminishes himself. Our country soldiers on with him or without him.

Now, back to work.

Posted by: CowTown | November 29, 2005 10:46 AM | Report abuse

On a personal level, it looks to me that the Iraqi WMDs that the government stated were threats to the US either did not exist or were lost in the disorder surrounding the invasion.

Furthermore, any plans the government had regarding the occupation of Iraq have been inadequate and, well, here we are.

Having said, that, we are there, and we have the responsibility as a country to leave Iraq as an orderly soverign country, and not a large scale civil disaster.

And as US citizens we have our responsibility to demand an accounting from our government for their failures.
Sadly, many missed an opportunity about a year ago.


Posted by: bc | November 29, 2005 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Let me add here that I do not hold the brave men and women of the US military responsible for the prolonged Iraq war.

I've used my favorite all-time quote here before, and I call on the Bard again:

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of
subjection." - Shakespeare, Henry V


Posted by: bc | November 29, 2005 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Now, it becomes clear. So many of you are fawning fans of journalism as an institution, to the point that you think it does not need to be policed. And you dismiss blog comments, even single comments on one issue, as if they were some kind of threat.

Are you the type of alert, informed citizen who knows which side to take to preserve the Republic and society. Are you merely to be lead by "leaders"--god help us, in journalism?

Perhaps a good looking news reader on CNN who cannot pronounce Baghdad. Or a NYT reporter who can't take the heat and had the wool pulled over her eyes as she was used repeatedly. The ombudspeople at major papers have their hands full as the quality of "journalism" declines. It's a contact sport, journalists, and if you can't take the heat, get out of the paper.

Posted by: Detritus Fan | November 29, 2005 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Well said, D Fan.

Posted by: GoombahRedux | November 29, 2005 11:02 AM | Report abuse


Since this is a private conversation between the two of us, let me say that I have often been a proponent of immediate pullout for the express reason that it causes people to start imagining the challenges faced by pulling out and pulling out efficiently (poor word, but you know what I mean).

In a sense, I know that one cannot easily just pull out the troops this week. If one suggests that we must wait 'til 2006 or after this or that, one is, without a doubt, delaying useful planning. An immediate removal is the only way that this government "gets the message."

In reality, it is just as crazy as actually telling the country to "stay the course." -- I would point out that this a nearly goal-less campaign, so such a statement is a stupid purpose for which to be spending a couple of billion dollars per week, not to mention all the those being killed and injured.

Given enough time, a discussion of why we shouldn't pull out now just seems to expose some amazing flaws in thinking (in my own opinion). My favorite is that these folks who say stay in Iraq until this or that situation often make a statement that pulling out now would cause a disaster of major perportion. I would counter that since we have been in an occupation position, the expectations of a post-pullout disaster has grown. My point is that the longer we stay the worse that potential disaster seems to grow. Therefore, to lessen the eventual impact, we should probably leave sooner than later.

Curiously, to the surprise of the current American administration, it appears that the Iraqis from many camps seem to agree.

I am hoping that the Bush Administration finds a way to do a few of their ballet steps and try to convince us that they have been planning to leave sooner than later, all along and then start pulling our people out.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 29, 2005 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I heard Seymour Hersh being interviewed on the radio this morning and -- while I think he flies off the handle a bit sometimes in interviews, where he doesn't have editors going over his work -- I heard a couple of interesting things regarding Murtha.

Murtha is on House Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Defense, where he is currently the ranking member and former chairman. He has had access to the military "black budget," Hersh says. He has access to generals. He's seen some of what lies behind the curtain.

Hersh says Murtha's comments should be seen as a message from some, if not many, of the generals and others who get some time behind the curtain. Hersh says Murtha's comments amount to a shot across the bow of a White House that shuts out opinions that it doesn't want to hear.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 11:05 AM | Report abuse

And Sometimes Fan, the FW poster had all the hallmarks of a one-off blog spammer -- even more anonymous than most of us.

Posted by: Scottynuke | Nov 29, 2005 10:46:28 AM

Scotty, you really seem threateneeed by the comment of FW. Why. What do you do for a living? Where were you a reporter? Why should reporters get any particular respect more than other workers of the world.

Posted by: D Fan | November 29, 2005 11:05 AM | Report abuse

"Now, it becomes clear. So many of you are fawning fans of journalism as an institution, to the point that you think it does not need to be policed."

Boy, I wish this place had a proper quotation system.

Anyway, DF, your comment is a straw man.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Quick and easy plan for withdrawal from Iraq: institute an immediate fuel tax of $2 per gallon of gasoline, diesel, and heating oil. Said tax to go directly to pay for the war and to be repealed on the day of final U.S. withdrawal. I guarantee that the troops would be home before the next election.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 29, 2005 11:14 AM | Report abuse

D Fan;

Have a nice day.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 11:14 AM | Report abuse

tx for ur reply, snuke-man.

Posted by: D Fan | November 29, 2005 11:17 AM | Report abuse

kurosawaguy, I'd be interested to see that bill voted on in the House and the Senate.

Cripes, I'd be interested to see what happens to the political careers of the guys that write it.


Posted by: bc | November 29, 2005 11:18 AM | Report abuse

BS--why a "straw man"? What is your considered view?

Posted by: DF | November 29, 2005 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Bayou Self,

What show was Hersh interviewed on? I'd like to track down the audio or a transcript of that.

There was a good discussion of Iraq by retired generals William Odom and Bernard Trainor last week on the NewsHour. No shouting, just a discussion where they both agreed and disagreed on some points.

Posted by: pj | November 29, 2005 11:20 AM | Report abuse

As to Iraq, our exit is generally tied to Iraq being able to police itself. James Fallows has a piece in the December Atlantic that says, in summary, good luck on that ever happening. He goes in depth to explain that the effort by America to train those troops are problematic. Among the issues ...

1.  Low U.S. respect for the task of training.
2.  Overwhelming language barrier.
3.  Rotation policy impedes creation of trust and development of longer term relationship with Iraqi counterparts.
4.  Iraqi's are more loyal to family, village and sect (in that order) than to country.
5.  More advanced equipment is withheld from Iraqis.
6.  Training of individual Iraqi troops is far different than building ongoing unit cohesion.
7.  There's no plan to supplement Iraqi forces with air support, logistics, vehicles and equipment, medical capability and communication networks.
8.  Military stability is fundamentally tied to political stability.
9.  Iraq's most effective units are often tied to specific factions (such as Kurdish peshmurga or different Shiite militias).
10. U.S. law restricts the training of police forces in other countries.
11. The problem has lacked specific and consistent White House attention.

I'm not saying pull out. I'm not saying send in more troops. The only argument I'm making here is that the ol' argument that we'll leave as they learn to police themselves is perhaps a simplistic one.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 11:26 AM | Report abuse

If you haven't used the link that Joel provided to the Massing article, I recommend it.

[Hard getting the story when you don't know the foreign language?]

Only by reading and watching such accounts [as provided by the New York times Magazine] is it possible to fathom the depths of Iraqi hatred for the United States. It's not the simple fact of occupation that's at work, but the way that occupation is being carried out, and the daily indignities, humiliations, and deaths that accompany it. If reports of such actions appeared more frequently in the press, they could help raise questions about the strategy the US is pursuing in Iraq and encourage discussion of whether there's a better way to deploy US troops.

Why are such reports so rare? The simple lack of language skills is one reason. Captain Zachary Miller, who commanded a company of US troops in eastern Baghdad in 2004 and who is now studying at the Kennedy School of Government, told me that of the fifty or so Western journalists who went out on patrol with his troops, hardly any spoke Arabic, and few bothered to bring interpreters. As a result, they were totally dependent on Miller and his fellow soldiers. "Normally, the reporters didn't ask questions of the Iraqis," he said. "They asked me."

[Also, an Anderson Cooper tidbit...]

On November 8, I turned on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 to see how the host was doing in his new job. It was Election Day, and I was hoping to find some analysis of the results. Instead, I found Cooper leading a discussion on a new sex survey conducted by Men's Fitness and Shape magazines. I learned that 82 percent of men think they're good or excellent in bed, and that New Yorkers report they have more sex than the residents of any other state. At that moment, New Orleans and Katrina seemed to be in a galaxy far, far away.

Posted by: Loomis | November 29, 2005 11:36 AM | Report abuse

pj -- Hersh was on Democracy Now. I catch "The Lefty Report" (as I like to call it) while driving in to work. I listen to the local newsradio first thing in the morning, catch some tunes in the shower (from George Harrison's Cloud Nine today) and listen to Amy Goodman stumble along while I drive.

Memo to Amy: You need a few lessons in broadcasting.

But I can't stand the wild-and-crazy radio personalities and I do often gain a nugget o' info by listening to the program.

DF -- To say that many of us are "fawning fans of journalism as an institution, to the point that you think it does not need to be policed" is a straw man because the argument is your own, constructed so that you might knock it down. I haven't seen anybody here argue that journalism needs no policing or oversight. In fact, my opinion is that everybody and every occupation -- be it ditch digging, lawyering, copy editing, coaching, aquarium cleaning, StarBucks managing, insect extermination, etc. -- needs a level of policing and oversight.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 11:40 AM | Report abuse

It's true, Loomis, but wouldnt we like to know if the sex is with men, women, or animals? Or with journalists.

Posted by: Df | November 29, 2005 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Hey Bayou Self,

I missed the broadcast to which you reference. Clearly, though, as you point out, Hirsch isn't a sugar-coater. My point to you may be that he is an engaging speaker as well as a strong writer who happens to be a tough reporter in the classic sense.

I would make the case that you are alarmed at his tone for some of the same reasons as Hirsch makes the point that Murtha's comments are a shot across the bow to which we, as Americans, should all pay attention. Murtha was "swift-boated" and politicized. He has been a pretty conservative advocate of the pentagon for decades.

I contend that what we had with Murtha was a return to Governance-a man stepping up to the plate and saying what had to be said to get us back on track.

I have heard that Hirsch has some more troubling stuff on Bush that he isn't talking about regarding the White House and Bush's hand of God mentality. As Hirsch being as Harsh as he is, (sorry) it makes it easy to dismiss him, but, at the end of the day, he has often been proven correct.

I know that this idea pre-dates so many of the readers, but back in the last years of Reagan's administration, a few people close to the White House let it out that he was suffering, but no one covered it in the press. One may ask, were we ill-served by the press for not letting us know? Sure there were many of reasonable and responsible men and women serving around Reagan, but we had a president who, for what it is worth, was probably not able to address the details of the office. Was that fair to America?

Now, ironically, we have many of those same people serving the current President and there is again talk of Presidential "issues." AND, at the same time, Hirsch isn't talking(on talk shows) about what he *knows* because it appears that he thinks that it would be too controvesial.

I read Kurtz's piece in the Politics section of this paper called Slow-Motion Disaster. It points me to conclude that this White House is having a hard time getting the government to function (vis-a-vis the Katrina aftermath) and yet we are still running around looking for political issues onto which they can hang their legacy. At some point, the administration has to get down to running the country.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 29, 2005 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Only 82 percent? That survey is probably flawed.

Posted by: Loomis | November 29, 2005 11:49 AM | Report abuse

My proposal is based on three principles. Real shared sacrifice gives everyone a stake in the outcome and makes "supporting the troops" a meaningful statement. Direct funding makes the incredible costs tangible. Linkage does away with the ADD of the electorate and provides a spur to elected officials.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 29, 2005 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Dolphin -- Hersh is an engaging speaker. But I remember him saying early this year (not writing, to the best of my knowledge, although I don't make it my business to review everything he writes) that America would attack Iran this summer. And he didn't just attribute that to some sources. He gave it an "oh yeah, this is gonna happen" delivery.

When he writes, some of the inflection is taken away. And editors may say, "Sy, this thing here, shouldn't this be attributed to somebody?" or "Your Hershness, I believe you may have misspelled a word here," or "Seymour, but that's awkwardly phrased." (which let's you secretly say "see more butt," ha!), or even, "Hershey, this copy is meltin' in my hand and needs another take."

Even Shakespeare had an editor. I don't know if that's true, but it sure sounds good, doesn't it?

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Here is the Democracy Now interview with Seymour Hersh that Bayou Self mentioned earlier:

Posted by: pj | November 29, 2005 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self, thanks for that excellent summary of the Fallows article.

Here's an excerpt of Plan of Attack, by Woodward, that ran on our front page:

"I really think I'm going to have to do this." The president said he had made up his mind on war. The United States should go to war.

"You're sure?" Powell asked.

Yes, said Bush.

"You understand the consequences," Powell said in a half question. For nearly six months, he had been hammering on this theme -- that the United States would be taking down a regime, would have to govern Iraq, and the ripple effect in the Middle East and the world could not be predicted. The run-up to war had sucked nearly all the oxygen from every other issue in foreign relations. War would surely get all the air and attention.

Yeah, I do, the president answered.

"You know that you're going to be owning this place?" Powell said...

Posted by: Achenbach | November 29, 2005 12:19 PM | Report abuse


"You know that you're going to be owning this place?" Powell said, reminding Bush of what he had told him at a dinner the previous August in which Powell had made the case against military action in Iraq. An invasion would mean assuming the hopes, aspirations and all the troubles of Iraq. Powell wasn't sure whether Bush had fully understood the meaning and consequences of total ownership.

But I think I have to do this, the president said.

Right, Powell said.

I just want to let you know that, Bush said, making it clear this was not a discussion, but the president informing one of his Cabinet members of his decision. The fork in the road had been reached and Bush had chosen war.

As the only person in Bush's inner circle who was seriously and actively pressing the diplomatic track, Powell figured the president wanted to make sure he would support the war. It was in some way a gut check, but Powell didn't feel the president was making a loyalty check. No way on God's earth could he walk away at that point. It would have been an unthinkable act of disloyalty to the president, to Powell's own soldier's code, to the United States military, and mostly to the several hundred thousand who would be going to war.

"Are you with me on this?" the president asked him now. "I think I have to do this. I want you with me."

"I'll do the best I can," Powell answered. "Yes, sir, I will support you. I'm with you, Mr. President."

"Time to put your war uniform on," the president said to the retired general.

In all the discussions, meetings, chats and back-and-forth, in Powell's grueling duels with Rumsfeld and Defense, the president had never once asked Powell, Would you do this? What's your overall advice? The bottom line?

Perhaps the president feared the answer. Perhaps Powell feared giving it. It would, after all, have been an opportunity to say he disagreed. But they had not reached that core question, and Powell would not push. He would not intrude on that most private of presidential space -- where a president made decisions of war and peace -- unless he was invited. He had not been invited.

Bush's meeting with Powell lasted 12 minutes. "It was a very cordial conversation," the president recalled. "It wasn't a long conversation," he noted. "There wasn't much debate: It looks like we're headed to war."

The president stated emphatically that though he had asked Powell to be with him and support him in a war, "I didn't need his permission."

Posted by: Achenbach | November 29, 2005 12:20 PM | Report abuse

What, no mention of Pottery Barn?

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all for your thoughts on the war. I'm printing this boodle to take home and mull over tonight. But I'll never understand how peace can be acquired through violence.
I do so love Van Gogh's paintings, though certainly not familiar with all of them. Rousseau is another favorite. Would love to see the original Sleeping Gypsy. I have that print and prints of The Chair and of course, Sunflowers. Did VG paint horses? Oh, if only he did! A dusty yellow palomino....

Posted by: Nani | November 29, 2005 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Journalism is the first rough draft of history. Has any journalist worked harder than Woodward to penetrate the hard target of the White House and write that rough draft? Woodward was, and IS, a hero of mine. He's a generous colleague and he's even NICE TO LITTLE KIDS!!!! I've seen it! He also happens to have been one of the key figures in making the Post a great and important newspaper. He's not perfect, and the Access Journalism concept merits debate (since I've never had a source or broken a story, I can't comment), but Woodward is not the issue that should preoccupy the busy minds of the citizenry. Let's face it, everyone's riled up because of a highly divisive president and his highly divisive war. The president made the decision to go to war, based on false allegations about Iraqi WMD, and even his defenders must realize he didn't grasp what it would mean to "own" Iraq, as Powell put it. You can fault Powell for not being more forceful in that meeting. And the entire press corps, Woodward included, failed to report adequately the flimsiness of the WMD allegations. Woodward has admitted that he could have done better. The Post has admitted it, too. But look at what Woodward brings to the table: He gets interviews with Bush and Powell and shows us that this historic meeting, in which a president discussed with his Secretary of State a decision to go to war, took exactly 12 minutes. And it wasn't a discussion. I'm glad I know that. I'm glad Woodward reported it.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 29, 2005 12:36 PM | Report abuse

And now I will go back to my garret. Sorry to butt in. I've got to go with the decaf next time.

Posted by: Achenbach | November 29, 2005 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Nice piece, JA.

But wouldn't we all like to know what BW reserves for books many months later to be in the daily paper? That's why it's a news-paper. Paper has already let him make his millions. Time to start reporting again.
He can make a difference.

Posted by: DT | November 29, 2005 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I think the debate over the role of press coverage on WMDs in the run-up to war is a bit off target. The flimsiness issue related to WMDs keeps coming up, but two other points are more important to me.

First, most so-called WMDs are not actually weapons that cause mass destruction. And in most cases, it is hard to use those weapons to cause mass injury or death. But "weapons of mass destruction" has an evil, scary sound to it.

Second, my real problem with the press reporting during the lead-in to war is that it did a poor job of differentiating Iraq and 9-11. As we went to war in Iraq, a majority of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was in on the 9-11 attacks. In fact, as we went to the polls just more than one year ago, a majority still thought that was the case.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Joel, thanks for the excerpts, and the insight. I do remember reading some of that in the WaPo.

It's easy to attack Woodward for his actions (or inactions), but if any of us puts ourselves in his shoes, could we honestly answer that we'd do things differently?


Posted by: bc | November 29, 2005 12:53 PM | Report abuse


Cannot comprehend your problem with the WMD def. They all cause mass dest, including of human life.

As for the uniformed, gullible public, remember that they are far more informed by the press than by the government, even if some shills like Miller stoop for the government.

Also remember the average IQ is 100

Posted by: DF | November 29, 2005 12:56 PM | Report abuse

...and we on this blog certainly have an average IQ of 100, right?

Posted by: DF | November 29, 2005 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I'll take that as a compliment.

As for the others.....

Posted by: ishkabibble | November 29, 2005 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self,

Fantastic points. I agree with what you have said. The window into History, as Joel points out, shows us an administration where there seemed not to be any debate worthy of the sacrifice that we were going to make as a nation. At the same time, we are having a hard time realizing what we aren't doing here at home because of that same cost.

Bayou, there were some interesting polling figures right after 9/11 and then running up to the war indicating at each time, how many Americans blamed 9/11 on Saddam. If there were questions about the press, I guess I would ask about their role in this run up of what, in 20/20 hindsight, may be yellow journalism.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 29, 2005 1:10 PM | Report abuse

DF -- It's difficult with chemical weapons to get them were they can kill or injure large numbers of people. And you need a lot of them to try and accomplish a "mass" attack.

With biological weapons, you might have a shot at causing a "mass" impact, but it is hard to do. Witness the anthrax incidents.

With nukes, you've now got something that could be a mass-destruction weapon. And yet, the most talked about scenario involving terrorists is a so-called dirty bomb. That would contaminate a fairly limited area.

When we say "weapons of mass destruction," I think many folks get the impression of a city being blown to smithereens (Condi Rice warned of not wanting the smoking gun to turn out to be a mushroom cloud), of a giant cloud of chemicals hovering over a city and exterminating us like insects or the release of a biological agent that would cause a pandemic. And those just aren't the most likely scenarios.

Instead of "weapons of mass destruction," I think I perhaps prefer "unconventional weapons," although I'm willing to allow that it has a clunky sound to it.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 1:13 PM | Report abuse


Don't go down the unconventional track. IEDs are rightly termed unconventional. I love it, the Army talks about them as if they were unfair, while we call in air strikes on a single house (the ole "surgical" magic) and use white phosphorous and can't seem to get a grip on civilian casualties.

As for WMD, I grant all of your points but note that in Vietnam, when we had more than
5 WIA from an action (regardless of KIA), we would tell the medics to call in a "mass casualty" situation. Mass and mass destruction are in the eyes of the beholders.

Posted by: DF | November 29, 2005 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Been in meetings all morning and seems I've missed quite a bit.

JA: your 12:36:20 defense of Woodward was right on.

bc: good choice of Henry V quote.

Bayou Self, excellent point about the straw man argument and your tackling DF. One of the curious things about journalism I've always found (having been an intermittent practitioner for nearly four decades) is that there are few people who are more critical of their own professions than journalists (certainly MUCH more self-critical than doctors, lawyers or politicians, god knows), although much of it occurs out of sight of the general public, in places, like AJR, CJR, Poynter, even places like, and around every water cooler and coffee pot -and at every bar located half a block from the back door of every newspaper--that I've ever worked at. And there's usually nothing wrong with it being conducted out of sight; we never get to hear what doctors say at the mortality/morbidity review meetings, either. And you're dead right that no journalist has said or is saying we don't need policing. One can make an argument that we may need more of it, and that's a legitimate debate. But what we certainly DON'T need is "policing" by these self-appointed ideologues and wannabes who couldn't write a lede or a hed to save their sorry souls -which is what we're getting here and elsewhere from time to time.

Everybody -including Downie and Woodward himself--admits Woodward screwed up, though exactly why and how and how bad are subject to some debate. But it is equally clear that the heat is being generated by people who have no idea what they're talking about, are out for blood, and are ideologically driven (and from both sides of the aisle, oddly enough). People who understand the business almost uniformly also agree that, mistaken as he was, it doesn't rise to a firing offense.

The biggest lie is, the people who are screaming, "I'll never believe the Post again! Cancel my subscription!" never believed the Post in the first place, and don't have subscriptions anyway. They may be entitled to their various political opinions, but (IMHO) they aren't entitled to mis-represent (a polite word for "lie").


The terminology debate about what WMD means would be a lot simpler if everyone just went back to the earlier, original (and non-politicized) definitions, which was chemical/biological/nuclear. If they had just stuck with CBNs, we wouldn't be having a lot of this conversation. Worse, there was no "good" reason to change the terminology--just somebody's &^%$$#*# spin.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 29, 2005 1:26 PM | Report abuse


NBC is bettah, in terms of possible consequences, but then someone would get confused and call an airstrike on Brian Williams...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Now, if the weapon wiped out a church during services on Sunday morning ...

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Say there, Curmudgeon, are you a testycopyeditor kind of person?

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self's point seems to be about perception of threat v. real threat to the USA. I may be wrong, but there may be a threat of attack with a dirty bomb, but our focus on Iraq is distracting us from that threat. (as might this increased focus on illegal aliens)

I guess, to restate, I agree with those who are concerned about an attack, but it seems that quite possibly, our government is inadvertantly distracted from that focus.

Furthermore, our threats do not come as much from nation states, as movements.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 29, 2005 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, I agree about nomenclature, but it's CBRN, isn't it? Chemical - biological - radiological - nuclear? That's how I think it's referred to around here in fireserviceland. It amazes me how politicized the grant process is for homeland security. We hired a full-time intern for two years to apply for and manage HS grants. Heaven knows we've got equipment out the wazoo that was paid for by federal handouts, but no maintenance money.

Posted by: slyness | November 29, 2005 2:02 PM | Report abuse


Everything that gov't buys is disposable.
Fix??? What is fix????

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 29, 2005 2:09 PM | Report abuse

NBC was more descriptive, but words have power and WMD conjured up a much more immediate and deadly threat. And I think CBS objected to all the free subliminal advertising their competitor was getting.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 29, 2005 2:09 PM | Report abuse

DM, fair point. But we bought a trailer to haul stuff around, and then had to scrounge the tractor to pull it. I haven't been able to discern any logic to this stuff at all, except for the radio interoperability. They did fund the equipment to enable us to talk to everybody in our 10-county region.

Posted by: slyness | November 29, 2005 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Bayou Self: Yes, I plead guilty. But spent most of my career on the other side of the desk, screaming that copy editors were mindless, soul-less butchers. And now I are one. Bad karma, maybe.

Slyness, I have no problem with CBRN. I tend to think of radiological as being part of nuclear (on the grounds that nuclear material is still nuclear material, whether it explodes or simply poisons/contaminates). But that's nit-picking. CBN probably pre-dates the era when people strated thinking about dirty bombs as well as, or instead of, explosions.

Scottynuke, if they called in an air strike on Brian Williams, who is to say that it was an "accident"?

Hey, I wanna change the subject and go back to a memory of the "good old days" when I was a kid, and my parents' magazines used to come in the mail. The best was the Saturday Evening Post, because the entire back page was jokes and cartoons; I especially loved the guy who wrote poems in broken German. Then there was Time Magazine. From Time and SEP I learned (from my mother, who also did it), to read the magazines from back to front, as many millions of readers still do. All the "good stuff" was always in the back-- the movie reviews, book reviews, TV stuff, cultuire stories, etc.--while the "hard news" (a.k.a. adult stuff, when you're a kid) was boring and in the front. Most boring of all was business stuff, followed by international news stuff, followed by national news stuff.

On the other hand, the advantage to reading Time was you learned the word "kudos," and my very favorite Time-speak, "Midst laurels stood." (Context: "Midst laurels stood U.N. Secretary Dag Hammerskjold, who was awarded the blah blah blah....")

In fact, along with "Hilarity ensues when..." I think we should formally adopt "Midst laurels stood" here in the boodle, e.g., "Midst laurels stood Nani, who won the first-ever boodle-of-the-week award...."

Then there was Boy's Life, also read back to front, first because the last page was a jokes page, and all the good woodlore and stuff tended to be in the back, while the articles about winning the good citizenship merit badge were up front. A great mag in it's day, but I shudder to think what's in it these days (if it still exists).

Next, there was my father's two favorite subs, Sports Illustrated (he was a charter subscriber from Day One), and Flying. O Nirvana!

My mother got a few of her own special subs, with names like Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, etc., but those I completely ignored....up until the age of about 11 or 12, when miraculously, Cosmoplitan suddenly became ... well, I'm reluctant to go into detail. Let's just say the cover photos took on an appeal they never seemed to have prior to the arrival of hormones and puberty. And the stories! Oh my. Even better than the stuff in my father's copies of True magazine or the photos of Mimi in Mechanics Illustrated ("Our gal Mimi checks the blade tension of her new Black and Decker 14" band saw...")

Then there was Life Magazine.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 29, 2005 2:38 PM | Report abuse


Touche on the "accident."

My father literally had a "reading basket" at the foot of his chair in the den. NatGeo, Newsweek AND Time (although Time fell off eventually), and the evergreen Reader's Digest (which is now turning a bit brown, even with the redesign). And don't get me started on the collection of Brittanica "Year In Science" issues in the living room. Or the New Yorker and Highlights at the doctor's office. A grand vista for a young reader. I miss it.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 2:48 PM | Report abuse

slyness, I think one of the problems of running local governments efficiently is the federal or state funding factors. It is hard to come by monies for things other than capital investments and staffing.

There are issues in budgeting and the anomolies caused by this factor.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 29, 2005 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Life, Look, Reader's Digest all were good reading. My dad took True Detective, or something like that, for a while, but it was so gruesome that I couldn't stand to read it. My mom gave me Seventeen, which I remember as a decent read, but that one has definitely gone down hill. I still take Smithsonian, though, and managed to glance through and enjoy it monthly. Loved the November issue, on 35 people who have made a difference. Jimmy Carter on Bill Gates was quite an essay.

Posted by: slyness | November 29, 2005 3:05 PM | Report abuse

DM, you are correct as usual. My department depends on property tax revenue, which has its problems, but at least we know what will be available. Yeah, we have funding issues, but they pale in comparison to what's going on it Louisiana. I think we'll keep our problems and be happy with them!

Posted by: slyness | November 29, 2005 3:09 PM | Report abuse

When I was eleven I saved up and subscribed to American Heritage Magazine in my own name. Hard covers and glossy paper, six issues a year for $25. Man, I loved that mag. Every year they gave me a coffe table history book as a premium for re-upping. I think Bruce Catton was the editor then. I still have his Army of the Potomac trilogy somewhere. Made me want to be a history major right up to the part where you get a job with your BA in history. Oh well, ask me about the underlying causes of the Boxer Rebellion, go ahead, ask me.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 29, 2005 3:11 PM | Report abuse


western cultural intrusion

Posted by: GommbahRedux | November 29, 2005 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, I've never stood midst laurels before. Thank you.

Posted by: Nani | November 29, 2005 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Boys Life is still alive and well and still using the same jokes. Since the average tenure in Scouts is about six years, they can recycle topics endlessly.

Some stand-up comedian said that reading Cosmo was like getting your hands on the other team's playbook. My favorite column is the most embarrassing moments which inevitably involves getting caught having sex somewhere or with someone you shouldn't.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 29, 2005 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, I wholeheartedly agree and was astounded to read the facts about NOLA in the Kurtz piece. I think that the Government should focus on governing the country and not big ticket PR.

What is this with a bankrupt Electric Utility and only a couple of hundred small business loans and FEMA unable to do anything to take care of a quarter of a million people?

Is it because we stopped looking or are we just unable to do anything? We fear that we need to remove as much politics from governing ASAP. Hopefully, we will keep this in mind the next time we see politicians campaigning for any office.

The second item of concern that I have is the results from years of libertarian tendencies in governing. AND/OR really bad state governments. Several months ago, those from LA were saying that their local governments are useless. Well, it does seem that NOLA has proved that the people lack strong advocates. Of course, I easily could be wrong. ... just an impression.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 29, 2005 3:31 PM | Report abuse

No, no, no GR. I said the UNDERLYING causes. Didn't you ever see the Jet Li movies Once upon a Time in China Parts 1 thru 6? Broaden your cultural base, dude.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 29, 2005 3:43 PM | Report abuse

k-guy -- Why did those Boxers have a rebellion? And did they take off their boxing gloves?

"Midst laurels stood the boxers" is part of a line from that Paul Simon song, isn't it?

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I could go on at length about the Boxer Rebellion, but instead I'll be brief.

Posted by: pj | November 29, 2005 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I always thought it was Hanes squaring off against FOTL...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 3:56 PM | Report abuse

They were mad at all the tighty-whiteys.

Posted by: yellojkt | November 29, 2005 4:04 PM | Report abuse

*ringing the bell to stop this round*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 4:05 PM | Report abuse

scottynuke, you sound so tightly wound and lusting for control. remember, we are all friends here, and you are new meat pushing the envelope.

is the nuke part from Naval service, or, a liking for the nuclear power industry?

Posted by: GB | November 29, 2005 4:10 PM | Report abuse

For boodlers with teens, google Teen Ink. This magazine features art, photography, poetry, nonfiction, fiction, sports, essays, book, concert and film reviews, cartoons, articles on all sorts of subjects, all written by teens. No.2 Grand-Girl reads each issue cover to cover. She's been writing something (won't show it to me until it's finished) to submit for publication.

Posted by: Nani | November 29, 2005 4:12 PM | Report abuse

So, an "underlying cause" would be (in the current underwear context) a rash? [Sorry, couldn't resist]

Posted by: CowTown | November 29, 2005 4:18 PM | Report abuse

no, rather a rasta smear.

Posted by: scottyNuke | November 29, 2005 4:19 PM | Report abuse

I think I should be flattered by all this attention I'm getting.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Noooooooooooooo, ScottyN, you should be mortified that someone's decoded your persona and displayed it for the world to see.

Posted by: ragtime | November 29, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse

ahem, this is where Cowtown reads the rules and prays for deus ex machina.

Posted by: GR | November 29, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I just did an Internet search of the phrase "midst laurels stood." It was my hope that hilarity would ensue.

I got nothing. Bupkus. Zip. Nil. The sound of no hands clapping. The empty set.

And I had my heart set on linking to some goofy or even racy links. Sigh. Scattershot humor is so fleeting, so evasive, so hit and miss, so ... scattershot.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 4:30 PM | Report abuse

For posters who enjoy sniping at other posters, may I recommend the WP's Reader's Forum. Right now, there's a fun discourse regarding the war in Iraq with much name-calling and nashing of teeth. Here's a link, enjoy!

Posted by: CowTown | November 29, 2005 4:34 PM | Report abuse

time for the West coast to reinvigorate this scintillating discussion

Posted by: SaltonC | November 29, 2005 4:34 PM | Report abuse


You gotta read them the rules, not just give them a link. Thanks for doing your job.

Posted by: Scaramouche | November 29, 2005 4:37 PM | Report abuse

And so ends another squamous tale...
(I know I overdo the dot dot dot thing, but I can't help it. Some like !!!!, some like....)

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 29, 2005 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Gotta love the gnashing of the teeth.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Dolphin Michael, I'd love to write the book on good local governance when I retire at the end of 2006...I've spent my career in NC, and what has made the difference has been the Institute of Government at UNC. The good that has come from that organization, from excellent pension funding policy to ethics to professionalism in local government management, cannot be overstated. Not that we're perfect, of course, but we do have a culture that promotes responsibility and efficiency. I am so grateful for that.

Posted by: Slyness | November 29, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The Boxer Rebellion started because the Boxers where angry at the ruling Jah Keye Dynasty, which had invited the Tighty-Whiteys into their country. They particularly blamed the head of the dynasty, their Chinese-Jewish leader, Jah Keye Schwartz.

The rebellion got its name because it began on a holiday named for a famous German-born Kashmiri hero, Johann Sebastian Bach-Singh. (The Tighty-Whiteys, disdaining the learning of Chinese, corrupted that name into "Boxer.")

You can sure learn a lot in this boodle.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 29, 2005 4:56 PM | Report abuse

K-guy: your affection for ellipses is an affliction known as "Some Like It Spot."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 29, 2005 4:58 PM | Report abuse

SCC: The Tighty-Whiteys, disdaining the learning of Chinese, corrupted that name into "Boxing."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 29, 2005 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you on the dot dot dot thing, kurosawaguy. I overuse them, but I love them so I don't care to stop.

Posted by: Sara | November 29, 2005 5:07 PM | Report abuse

But, ellipses fans -- and I'm confident Curmudgeon has my back on this -- them there dots generally travel in threes. That's unless a full sentence has ended before another phrase starts, in which case it gets real complicated and varies from publication to publication, depending on the style book and whether the chief copy editor, if applicable, wears boxers or briefs.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Got your back, Bayou Self. I share the ellipses affliction, by the way...

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 29, 2005 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Now chat take nappy time?

Posted by: Juddy | November 29, 2005 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Magazines are signs of the times we live in:
First the was 'Life'
Then came 'People'
Followed by 'Us'
And, finally, 'Self'

Posted by: Margaret | November 29, 2005 5:53 PM | Report abuse

bc - i don't think we ever decided on a bph spot! achenfan suggested zoo bar across from the national zoo in honour of Tai Shin - but i'm quite satisfied to go back to mccormack & schmicks - yummy yummy appetizers at $2 each!

the one magazine i DO get every year without fail is the Year in Pictures from Life - i've gotten them for the last 10 or 15 years... it's nice to go back to my stash and remember what was going on way back when... put's the current nature of our country and current events into a different perspective...

and i obviously heart periods of ellipses!

Posted by: mo | November 29, 2005 6:10 PM | Report abuse

*peering over the transom to see if the mimic is still here*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Ellipses are cool...

Most of the time.

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 6:43 PM | Report abuse

So the Boxing Rebellion had nothing to do with the day after Christmas?

*note to self -- consolidate posts when possible*

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Ain't nobody here, man. (Trying to imitate people who can speak eloquently with bad grammar without constantly self-correcting. Wish I were one. (How d' you like that use of the subjunctive in a casual parenthetical comment?))

Just us chickens.

Posted by: Tim | November 29, 2005 6:46 PM | Report abuse


I'm impressed if you use an adjective.

As for as my writing, with the advent of Windows Grammer Checker, I have discovered error messages that no one else has seen.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 29, 2005 6:56 PM | Report abuse

There should be a magazine about ellipses.

They'd pick a particularly attractive set of ellipses for the cover. They'd have a lengthy profile story on some ellipses as a featured item. They'd interview an ellipsis about his or her falling out with the rest of the trio that led to solo work as a period. They'd have a box near the front with great moments in the history of ellipses. They'd have a point/counterpoint page where editors would argue about the proper usage of ellipses. "AP style!" one would say, with an exclamation point on the end. "In-house style!" the other would say, also with an exclamation point on the end. At the end of that piece, they'd go out and find some semicolons to beat up.

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Don't you just love it when they have the big Christmas tree down on the ellipses... ?

Posted by: TBG | November 29, 2005 8:05 PM | Report abuse

So, Slyness, you are from the land of Jesse Helms. You have MUCH to answer for.

And on a lighter note, when ellipses get stoned, do they become umlauts?

Posted by: kurosawaguy | November 29, 2005 8:44 PM | Report abuse

I always have trouble trying to use the ellipse machines in the fitness center...

Posted by: Scottynuke | November 29, 2005 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Years ago I typed letters for a woman who didn't believe in ending sentences with a period. Every sentence in her letters ended either with an exclamation mark (or several) or an ellipsis. The worst part was transcribing recorded dictation from her because it would be like this: "Such a pleasure to see you yesterday, dot-dot-dot, hope we can do it again soon, dot-dot-dot, maybe next week, exclamation mark, exclamation mark!" And so on. If I had the grammar check turned on, the entire letter would be underlined in green squiggly lines!

And I would be thinking, for this I went to college?

Posted by: Reader | November 29, 2005 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I think snuke is my fave, and the largest user of wordspace on this blog. God bless him.

Posted by: Phellatioman | November 29, 2005 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Reader, they could have interviewed her for Ellipses magazine.

But you bring up another bone that needs picking. That's the use of more than one exclamation point!!!

One is plenty! Always! And they should be used sparingly! Unlike what I'm doing right now! I mean it! Really!

Posted by: Bayou Self | November 29, 2005 10:18 PM | Report abuse

Whilst you all were discussing weighty issues of war and the press, midst the laurels, there's a panda video!
Everybody say, "Awwwww."

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 29, 2005 10:47 PM | Report abuse

Reader, thanks for the link to the Borowitz Report. I read it today too - he always makes me laugh.

Over the weekend I read Lynne Truss's new book about public rudeness - what a hoot. And as I suspected, no ascribing the trend to "liberals", as George Will did. Bah! I've just started to read a fiction piece she did - funnily enough it's about a magazine writer who isn't above making up facts as he goes along.

Wonder if Woodward was at the panda viewing...Oh, and there's another cool job title - Assistant Curator of Pandas. That's what I want to be!

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 29, 2005 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Kguy, I like your idea about the tax for funding the war. But those Republicans, they figured out that they could cut taxes and still go to war - somebody else will pay for it later, long after they're gone. I have a feeling W's legacy won't be stellar.

On Woodward - I guess I feel a sense of betrayal, that he's been sucked in by the powers that be. And maybe he can't even admit to himself that he was being used. He is a fine reporter - unfortunate that he got caught in Rove's web.

So much to catch up on...

Posted by: mostlylurking | November 29, 2005 11:02 PM | Report abuse

...the stream today seems to have taken
on a deeper run of thought on iraq and views of leaving iraq to iraq...........
with the potus prepared to speak on iraq
later today about his plan and how he
views what is taking place or coming up
in the near,mid and long is
interesting that he will do so in a forum
that is martial...and not reflective of
a larger group of americans from all walks
of life or it will likely
be one more potemkin setting...staged to
allow bush2 a full backup of martial for his message one would
hope it may in fact reveal some new,evolved
thinking or a new horizon of perspective...
but that may prove too high an expectation.
...the getting in was too easy and as is
now plainly evident the getting out will
be painful whether done on the quick and
clean or drawn out and never
was about military power or victory...what
country or any smaller group such as that
of bin laden's could ever hope to win any
war with the usa? who else floats a navy,
puts to the air an air force or can field
an army on a endless costplus premise?...
who is going to attack the usa,as in come
up to the mainland shores and offload an
invasion army?...they would never get one
third across the atlantic or pacific oceans
...or reach very far thru mexico from the
south or canada from the north............
as for the fearmongering and near constant
stoking of not being secure...does it lead
to americans being safer?...what we can do
is understand that if we allow economic
and political interests to lead us abroad
into the world we are going to have to deal
with the downside as well as the positives.
that is realistic...borrowing money from
china with one hand...and then demonizing
china as a threat to usa interests is not
credible or supportable...and so it is
with iraq...if we are there to make it a
better country then support and fulfill
that goal...if we went in for the oil then
state it as so...and prepare to endure the
fallout...but this war was not declared
for was about taking out a
ruinous dictator and his purported wmd
weapons...saddam was once a creature for
convenient purpose for the usa...this is
a part of story perhaps not so well known
...and it has some bearing on how we now
conduct ourselves in iraq or getting out.
...this WH rushed into this war on the
basis of not wanting a complete review or wanted a war...and after 9/11
it was able to drumbeat american opinion
to its three years later it
is plainly evident it severely overstated
it's case...and with disregard for what
was not known or understood unleashed a
conflict it now struggles to stay in front
of...denying time for a more complete and
filled in now suffers from
lack of credence in it's politics and
with the american people................
...with time as we all learn more and are
able to bring perspective to this war it
will be plainly evident there was no need
greater than to build and form a resilent
support base for this iraq adventure.....
having failed that the bush2 WH will now
need to endure the have
now over 2,000 americans with their lives
and thousands more injured or maimed.....
as for iraq and its people who have now
been split and severed apart it will take
a divine wind of mercy to heal what has
been inflicted. bush2 today may rise to
the event and give reason to follow him
for a while longer, there is no time for
more is time for somber
personal and national humility and coming
to terms with failed goals and means.....
more of the same bush2 hollow and spunout
word repeat...more of the closed discourse
setting...will lead only to more falling
short of any goals in staying or leaving...

Posted by: an american in siam.... | November 30, 2005 4:44 AM | Report abuse

Ah, to be up early in the morning and check out the blog and be the next person to post after american in siam. (I am a fan).

He is my Dick Young. I envision him off somewhere beautiful amongst the laurels, in a house open to the breeze, typing away in his classic pandameter with perfect application of ellipses...

Every day, he looks back at us and just shakes his head. (..)

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 30, 2005 5:57 AM | Report abuse

That's my image, too, DMichael: A-in-Siam shaking his head at us.

I think the first withdrawal from Iraq has got to be the foreign (read: American) contractors who are taking the jobs away from qualified Iraqis. That would be a huge step in the right directions. People with jobs rarely have time to blow up people (unless, of course, that's their job... but that's another topic altogether).

Posted by: TBG | November 30, 2005 6:52 AM | Report abuse


Officially rolling on the floor!!! Thanks for the laugh. (not a good subject ... but so true).

Yes, the US of A used to know how to do this right. Yes, at times, it was their job--we had the receipts to prove it.

Someone should look up the GNP of Afghanistan for instance and figure out that we could have simple just hired the country and then given them a 30% raise and still come out ahead. Sheeesh, for an additional 10%, they probably would have thrown in Bin Laden's head on a pike.

Yes, TBG, how we can have so many analysts and not get it that we need to do more than just get photo op moments where statues get pulled down and American flags and British flags just spontaneously pop up everywhere... and the flowers, what a great touch.

No, there's no crying in baseball!!!!

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 30, 2005 7:13 AM | Report abuse


But if we had just hired Afghanis and Iraqis to do the work that the American companies are doing, the White House's buddies wouldn't have gotten any richer!

Isn't that the reason we went to war? Well.. that and the legacy thing, of course.

Posted by: TBG | November 30, 2005 7:34 AM | Report abuse


Possibly you are missing the value of all the secondary aspects associated with the war. You know, just like what came out of the space program, like Tang and mylar.

If it hadn't been for Iraq, we couldn't have been able to swiftly bring back all those Blackwater folks from Iraq to patrol NOLA after the flood.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 30, 2005 7:40 AM | Report abuse

k-guy, I take no responsibility for Jesse Helms. Never voted for the SOB, just as I never voted to Dubya. Neither of them ever represented me!

And thanks for Anne Applebaum for this word. Now can we leave Woodward alone to write the first draft of history?

Posted by: slyness | November 30, 2005 8:09 AM | Report abuse

"columnizing", now that's a word we can thank Anne for.

I think the less said on the record about this, the better. You can thank me later.


Posted by: bc | November 30, 2005 8:33 AM | Report abuse

good morning slyness!

Thanks for the post, I had missed it ... a good take, not that everything sits well, but well composed and very much worthy of thought.

What has settled in as THE ISSUE here isn't Woodward or the Post, but the government. Isn't it time that the government stop being so secretive and off-the-record-at-best in its dealings with the press and the public?

Froomkin also had a piece yesterday on the walling-off of the President from the public (read disgruntled public). They are so afraid of any heckling that they cloistered our leader.

I think this has caused part of the governance problem that we face today. Today's debating has evolved to Person A makeing a statement and then Person B calling Person A a traitor; followed by alot of yelling.

Two weeks ago, the Post ran a headline that went something like Congress reaches a Compromise on the Budget. Then, in the first sentence it states that the accord was reached between differing Republican factions. No Democrats. I for one, believe that either party is neither all right or all wrong. If we focused on getting the best of each party, we would be a whole lot better.

Governing should be a stocastic process. We constantly take in new factors and discuss and refine. We are so far from positive systems of discussion and decision making that we have this current disaster, partially fueled I believe by walling off the President of the United States.

I think that the next lady or gentleman who runs for president and promises not to have a Chatty Cathy Pres Secr. rather he/she promises to stand up and take questions and also go to congress and discuss policy with both parties, will win.

Right now, I guess the President is about to get onto AirForce 1 or Marine 1 to go to yet another military base to make yet another impassioned speech asking the American public to back him with his Stay the Course myth.

I think we got the message after speech number 30. Why can't the President get it?

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | November 30, 2005 8:44 AM | Report abuse

DM, I'm with you all the way. I'll vote for the one who has the guts to stand up and take the heckling.

Posted by: slyness | November 30, 2005 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Just in case, there's a new kit out there.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | November 30, 2005 9:41 AM | Report abuse

mo, I think we should make a BPH decision and just move on it.

I vote for the previous location, simply because it requires less thought.


Posted by: bc | November 30, 2005 1:57 PM | Report abuse

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