It's "bash the New York Times day" here at Pun Salad.
- Roger L. Simon shakes
his head in dismay at Nicholas Kristof's review
of a new Mao biography.
Finally, there is Mao's place in history. I agree that Mao was a catastrophic ruler in many, many respects, and this book captures that side better than anything ever written. But Mao's legacy is not all bad.
Kristof's blithe "the ends justify the means" contempt for human life boggles the imagination. 70 million dead? 40 million dead? At numbers like that who could know really? The Great Helmsman was a mass murderer beyond comprehension. To excuse it in on any level is morally repellent and deeply dangerous to the future of humanity.
Also making waves the past few days is the increasing strife between
(Pulitzer) prizewinning NYT reporter Judith Miller and (it seems) everyone
else at the Times.
Gratifyingly, the pissfest is being carried out largely in the
public eye for the amusement of all who care.
Mickey Kaus cares, of course. In a longish Kausfiles posting, he analyzes a Maureen Down column (which recommended "nail[ing Judy Miller] to a chair", figuratively, of course) and editor Bill Keller's e-mail to NYT staff. He dubs such responses "incoherent." (Andrew Sullivan, on the other hand deems Keller's memo "impressively honest and appropriately self-critical." Read 'em both and decide for yourself who's more on target. To my mind, it's Kaus.)
It's hard not to be on Judy's side here, because she has the right enemies. Many, if not all, of the sins she's ostensibly being pilloried for did not affect what actually appeared in the Times (unlike the work of, say, Kristof).
And today's NYT has an editorial today
supporting guess what?
There's no serious disagreement that two major crises of our time are terrorism and global warming. … The best solution is to increase the federal gasoline tax, in order to keep the price of gas near its post-Katrina highs of $3-plus a gallon.
Did the NYT ever see a problem to which a tax increase was not the answer?
Now, non-silly people have also made the argument for increasing gasoline taxes. But claiming it would decrease terrorism depends greatly on the likelihood of a very Rube Goldberg-style chain of events hinging on the behavior of Saudi Arabia in response; see Arnold Kling in Tech Central Station for reasons to be dubious at best.
Even a fuel consumption tax would not reduce world demand for oil by as much as it would reduce our own consumption of fuel products. That is because as the price of oil declines, demand will increase in other countries.
A similar point can be made with respect to the tax increase's effect on global warming. (Even if you buy into the dubious premise that incremental changes in gasoline consumption will significantly affect global temperature changes.)
But to the editorial writers at the Times, it's simply taken for granted that shoveling more money into the government maw will have beneficial effects.
- This isn't particularly recent, but (hey) it's new to me: a straightforward tribute from Joe Bob Briggs about Bob Hope. In keeping with today's theme: it should have been in the NYT, but wasn't.