From Pine View Farm

Some Random Thoughts 0

As I headed out today, I found myself thinking of parallels between the discussions over how to pay for the war in Iraq and the rebuilding after Katrina and the “guns and butter” debates of the Viet Nam era. When I got home and burroughed my down to the Business section of the local rag, I found that Andrew Cassals has beaten me to the punch. Follow the link to read the entire column (it’s well worth it).

The war on the other side of the world isn’t going so well, and opposition at home is starting to grow. But the administration says we have to stay the course.

Meanwhile, shocking images of loss and destruction in a major American city, including a breakdown of law and order with ugly racial overtones, have been broadcast around the world.

The President, conscious that his image as a can-do Texan is eroding, decides on dramatic steps.

Taking to the airwaves, he announces a massive federal response. Washington will provide as much money as needed to rebuild the affected urban areas.

Funds will pour in not only to rebuild, but also to combat historic urban problems tied to race and class.

And if all of that gets you down, you can always change channels and hear about coming concerts by Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones.

Is it 2005 or 1965? How can you tell?

Update, 3:00 p.m., September 22, 2005:

Apparently, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post had the same thoughts. In today’s column, he says, in part:

On Aug. 3, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent a message to Congress in which he said that the United States could not continue to fight a war in Vietnam and at the same time continue his Great Society programs without, among other things, raising taxes. George Bush ought to read that message. It was titled “The Hard and Inescapable Facts.”

For Bush, facts are neither hard nor inescapable. He believes in “magical math” — a firm understanding that somehow, in some way, something will happen to make everything come out right in the end. This is the economics practiced by the dreamy who think that today’s credit card purchase will never come due. This, in a nutshell, is the financial blueprint for the United States of America.

The other big news here is that the local rag cutting its staff signifcantly. The story in the Inquirer started off with

The Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, the dominant daily newspapers in this metropolitan area of five million people, will slash 16 percent of their newsroom staffs through buyouts or layoffs this year, their publisher said yesterday.

Dan Rubin had a personal take on it on yesterday’s Blinq.

And they are not alone. The New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Houston Chronical are also cutting back.

Now, I like newspapers. I started reading the paper when I had just learned to read (The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). I have travelled a lot on my job and I always read the local rag, whatever it may be. The local rag cannot fail to have more personality than USA Today (the MacDonald’s of Newspapers). And the local rag always has comics. (That’s why I don’t read the New York Times unless I am mind-numbingly desperate–it has no comics. I’m not interested in a paper with no sense of humor.)

I can learn more in 30 minutes with a newspaper than in 30 hours with television news.

The New York Times (as much as I find it pedantic, boring, and self-satisfied), the Inquirer, the Globe are among the nation’s great papers, along with, in my opinion, the Chicago Tribune, the Sacramento Bee, the L. A. Times, the Washington Post (my personal favorite), and a few others. What’s happening to them?

It’s not the blogsphere (which someone recently nominated as the ugliest new word of the last five years). Indeed, the great majority of bloggers I have read seem to be dedicated readers.

The bleeding started long ago. It’s people who don’t read. Some of whom don’t read at all. And, in some kind of wierd turnabout, these same people will believe anything they see at a website, but refuse to believe anything they see in the paper.

I’m gratified that my son, from time to time, picks up the paper. But, when I grew up, the Paper was not an option; it was a necessity.

You read your local paper every day. No question.

I’m not going to theorize why. There are lots of theorist out there. But it is distressing that MacNews is beating out steak and eggs.

Speaking of MacNews, the Suburban Guerrilla today reported that the National (not Philadephia) Enquirer (not Inquirer) was claiming that

Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal.

Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe.

Follow the links to read more.

I don’t know what is most disturbing about this story, and I do have mixed emotions.

I find it’s appearance in the Enquirer (hardly renowned for groundbreaking, or accurate, reporting) particularly distressing, because I doubt they would print something like this unless they thought they could defend it.

If it is true, I don’t know whether it matters. I don’t think it could render his performance any worse than it already is.

If it is not true, as much as I am convinced that Mr. Bush is likely the worst president of the US since the Civil War, I would not like to see him smeared. There are enough legitimate issues to pursue without adding this kind of dirt.

I would urge you to read the comments at Suburban Guerrilla. Some of them are quite interesting.

And that’s all the thoughts I could manage today.


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