Sunday, February 06, 2005

Community Members weigh in on this morning's New York Times

Stephanie: Can I just weigh in on today's paper? Can I take a moment to point out that the celebrity profile on Tom Brady [football player] does not belong on the front page. Forget that the topic isn't news, no front page story should ever run with statements like: "Brady's pedigree is purebred." Pedigree? On the front page of NYT? I realize that hyperbole is really important in celeb and sports profiles but that's why they don't belong on the front page, they aren't news and they're not factual."

Krista: I would so not, NOT, not do Tom Brady. He is so gross. And what's all this talk about him being an alter boy, a Matt Damon lookalike, and uncomfortable with being asked about his looks? Is the paper trying to imply he's gay? Or are they trying to imply he isn't? Is he married? I'm sorry this story doesn't belong on the front page but if you're going to write up a story about some guy and toss it on the front page, the first thing I'm wondering is he eligible. When I saw the photos inside the paper, I didn't care. But that was what I was looking for when I just had a profile shot of him on the front page to go by. This story is fluff and it's not even good fluff!

Ellen: Did you read "Debate Stirs On the Value of Ecopolitics?" [Front page story.] Didn't I read about this somewhere else months ago? Why is on the front page?

[A number of publications have already covered this. The Nation covered this same issue on December 16th (subscribers only). Remember, it's the New York Times, not the New York Timely.]

Lloyd: Did you read Edward Wong's "Top Iraq Shiites Pushing Religion in Constitution" on the front page? You should note this.

[You've noted it. I'll note the paper's Iraq coverage when they note who leaves the Green Zone and who doesn't. I'm tired of second-hand reports becoming first-hand in the press.]

Daryl: I don't know how to do links but Richard A. Clarke has an article in the Sunday Magazine called "No Returns: Why More Democracy Won't Mean Less Terrorism." I think it's a regular feature.

[Daryl's correct. And if you have security questions for Clarke, he's billed as "The Security Adviser," you can submit them to the Times. In print, they don't note that but online, they do.]

Daryl: This is the section that I thought was strongest:

Beyond Iraq, in the greater Muslim world, opposing democracy is not uppermost in the mind of Al Qaeda or the larger jihadist network. (In Saudi Arabia, for example, Al Qaeda wants the monarchy replaced by a more democratic government.) Radical Islamists are ultimately seeking to create something orthogonal to our model of democracy. They are fighting to create a theocracy or, in their vernacular, a caliphate (a divinely inspired government administered by a caliph as Allah's viceroy on earth). They are also seeking to evict American influence from nations with a Muslim majority (or even, as in Iraq, a Muslim minority, given their view that Shiites are, as Zarqawi put it, part of a ''wicked sect'' and not true Muslims). In pursuing these goals, today's loosely affiliated Islamic terrorist groups are part of a trend dating back to at least 1928, when the Muslim Brotherhood was founded to promote Islam and fight colonialism.

Eli: I can't make heads or tails out of Eduardo Porter and his "Working out the Numbers: Figuring a Social Security Benefit Under President Bush's Plan." [A12] They tagged it "news analysis" but it's a confusing mess. I do understand numbers and I do understand social security. Mr. Porter's not dealing with reality in this story. The bonds are in trouble, which he doesn't tell you, and for the plan to do well, you need the economy to do more than merely grow, you need it to be booming. But Mr. Porter doesn't address those issues. Can you link to Paul Krugman's debate on [Amy] Goodman's show because I think people might see the news analysis tag and not realize how much is not being addressed by Mr. Porter.

Here's an excerpt from the Democracy Now! debate between Paul Krugman and Eric Engen:

Krugman: Again, I don't think anyone's plotted out this one directly, but the plans we have all looked at suggest that the budget deficit will be higher than it otherwise would be until about 2050. Then maybe there would be some positive stuff, but we're really talk about borrowing trillions and trillions of dollars to replace the monies that being diverted into private accounts, and the only way this comes out as a possible benefit is if those private accounts do sufficiently well on the stocks that make up part of the investment to offset the borrowing costs. So, if you distill the whole thing down to the essence, it's the U.S. government borrowing to buy stocks, but shifting the risk. This is the really important thing: shifting the risk onto retirees. It's not -- there would be -- we could have -- it would be bad enough if the federal government were just going to borrow to buy stocks as a way of doing something, but what it's actually doing is borrowing on your behalf, you the retiree, telling you, “Well, you know, you might want to put some of this in stocks,” and then saying, “Well, if it does badly, well, that's your problem.”

Tori: I don't care for Todd the toad Purdum but his "From Ashes of '04 Effort, Dean Reinvents Himself" [A13] contains one grain of truth, via Congressman Jim McDermott: "If you could boil it down, Dean is seen as a soldier's general. He's a guy who sleeps in the trenches with the troops. Howard Dean learned an awful lot in that short time he was in the presidential campaign. He made some mistakes. Nobody's going to say he didn't. But he learned a great deal."

Bobby: I loathed Alan Feuer's "23,000 Regular Citizens to Join Regular Army at War" [A17] because it was so rah-rah and tended to ignore the reality that the mood is far from rah-rah for the families. But on a picky note, Feuer writes that yellow ribbons "hang like fruit in the trees of Troy" and the reality is that fruit hangs from trees, not in them.

Lori: Pass on to Krista that her Jailed Hottie Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky is mentioned in "Two Fugitives from Russia At Bush Event" [by Erin E. Arvedlund, A10]. Here are the sentences with her Hottie: "As part of a broad attack on the Russian oil giant Yukos and its founder Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the Russian authorities last year began investigating and arresting some of his closest business associates. Mr. Khodorkovsky was arrested in October 2003 and remains in jail and on trial." and "Mr. Khodorkovsky and his partners claim that the arrest warrants agains them are politically motivated, part of a wider crackdown on the country's wealthy business elite and a renationalization of some of the country's oil and gas assets sold of in the 1990's privatization auctions. The United States has also viewed the attack on Mr. Khodorkovsky as largely political." And please tell Krista that I don't find Mikhail to be an extreme Hottie but I now read any story I see on him because I always think, "Oh there's Krista's man!" So his looks got you to pay attention to news stories on Yukos and knowing he's "your man" got me to pay attention to news stories on Yukos.