Several points to make before signing off for a while:
1) Dontcha just love Paul Krugman’s anti-McCain columns? “The Right’s Man” on March 13 was tasty. “It’s time for some straight talk about John McCain,” Krugman began. “He isn’t a moderate. He’s much less of a maverick than you’d think. And he isn’t the straight talker he claims to be.” Conclusion:
Mr. McCain’s policy positions and Senate votes don’t just place him at the right end of America’s political spectrum; they place him in the right wing of the Republican Party.
And he isn’t a maverick, at least not when it counts. When the cameras are rolling, Mr. McCain can sometimes be seen striking a brave pose of opposition to the White House. But when it matters, when the Bush administration’s ability to do whatever it wants is at stake, Mr. McCain always toes the party line.
This morning’s, “John and Jerry,” was especially delicious. It takes McCain apart for playing kissy face with religious extremist Jerry Falwell. But for the first time in as long as I can remember, I hafta disagree with Krugman, who sums up his opinion of McCain this way:
[H]is denunciation of Mr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson six years ago helped give him a reputation as a moderate on social issues. Now that he has made up with Mr. Falwell and endorsed South Dakota’s ban on abortion even in the case of rape or incest, only two conclusions are possible: either he isn’t a social moderate after all, or he’s a cynical political opportunist.
Uh, Paul, how about sticking to your guns: McCain isn’t a social moderate in the first place, and he’s a cynical political opportunist, which you’ve been getting at all along.
2) Noam Chomsky laid it out nicely this morning when he pointed out, among some other salient observations about the current state of our American democracy, what consumer advertising and U.S. election campaigns share in common: “The purpose is to delude and deceive by imagery.”
Ah, images. That brings up issue No. 3:
3) Byron (“Barney”) Calame, the public editor of The New York Times, is so earnest about editorial transparency that he wrote half of a whole column a couple of weeks ago about “improving openness to reader feedback” and how to reach Times reporters and editors by e-mail. But he still hasn’t replied to me about The Copycat and the Original Cat.
I messaged Calame on March 13, alerting him to the item and expressing my dismay at “three months of stonewalling in this matter” before finally receiving an unsatisfactory reply from a Times Style Magazine editor. I got back Calame’s standard automated response that my message was received: “Everything sent to this mailbox is read by either me or my associate, Joseph Plambeck. If a further reply is appropriate, you will be hearing from us shortly.”
I’ve heard nothing from him shortly or longly. I guess he thinks it’s inappropriate to bring up the issue of exploitation verging on plagiarism, let alone stonewalling by the Times. Or maybe he’s just overwhelmed by a busy schedule, unlike the foreign desk and Jeffrey Gettleman, the Times reporter who recently returned to Iraq and is putting out jolting front-page features like this morning’s on gun sales in Baghdad, which offers the real lowdown on life in the Wild East.
Last week I messaged the Times’s foreign desk asking about the slight difference between the print and online versions of a key paragraph in Gettleman’s Sunday story of March 26, “Bound, Blindfolded and Dead: The Face of Revenge in Baghdad.”
This appeared in print:
Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador, is now saying that militias are Iraq’s No. 1 security threat. But he has been careful to paint the problem in broad strokes, implying both sides are at fault.
This appeared on the Web site:
Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador, has expressed increasing alarm about militia violence, saying it is a bigger killer than car bombs, the former No. 1 security threat. But he has been careful to paint the problem in broad strokes, implying both sides are at fault.
A minor difference, to be sure. My message went to the foreign desk on March 27, at 9:29 a.m. The foreign desk forwarded my message to Gettleman, and at 10:42 a.m. he replied:
glad to help.
often, for space reasons, we have to trim stories that run on the web at a longer length.
in this case, to fit additional information in, we made the decision to cut out the mention of car bombs and rewrite the sentence the way it appeared in print.
Now that’s not only editorial transparency but service way above and beyond the call of duty from a war correspondent busy dodging bullets. It’s the kind you’d expect, however, from a public editor busy being earnest about transparency.