Sunday, January 25, 2004

The Sunday Papers 

Richard Morin has a column on psychopathic bosses. Psychologists Paul Babiak and Robert Hare designed the standard test and wrote Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work due out later this year. Writes Morin: "The workplace test asks the boss's boss, colleagues and subordinates to rate how well certain phrases describe the supervisor. The descriptions include: 'Comes across as smooth, polished and charming.' 'Lies to co-workers, customers, or business associates with a straight face.' 'Has created a power network in the organization and uses it for personal gain.' 'Fakes sincerity with great conviction.'" Sound like anyone we know? Think computer skills and job training are the answer in today's economy? Zeynep Tufekci writes about job training in Texas: "One day, a trainee proudly handed me a flier advertising her services that she had made on the computer. Furthermore, she explained, she now keeps her accounts on a spreadsheet and uses MapQuest.com to get directions to the houses that she cleans on her hands and knees, seven days a week, 12 hours a day, for a pittance." And poor Michael Gelertner is ombudsing onward. This week, he puts a long-overdue bullet into the winger meme that Bush never used the word "imminent," calling it "quibbling". Hanna Rosin reports on New Hampshire. What's right: lots of good detail. What's wrong? She reports this exchange between Edwards and a voter: "[Edwards:] 'People, you know what to do when you see zero percent interest, don't you?" And a woman from the audience yells out, 'Read the fine print.' Rosen then segues into an Inside Baseball-style discussion of campaign mechanics, concluding that the NH primary "places excessive importance on charm," implicitly Edwards'. Which could be true, especially if she quoted other candidates raising the same issue, but in a less charming way, but she doesn't, of course. Finally, in news of the unWar, "Guantanamo Spy Cases Evaporate". Surprise! At the forthrightness of the headline, that is.

LA Times
And speaking of the unWar, William M. Arkin writes about the shared assumptions (the CW) between Republicans and Democrats: "[The Democrats] have not challenged the central premise of the Bush doctrine on national security — the endlessly repeated assertion that the United States is "at war." ... Today, Democrats need to ask themselves: If we are in fact "at war" and facing such high stakes, why would the American public want to risk changing the White House leadership now?" Answers, anyone? "Me too" sure didn't work in 2002. More on the unWar: Despite the assurances of President Musharrafof that Pakistan has cracked down on AQ, Paul Watson and Mubashir Zaidi write AQ organizations flourish openly in Rawalpindi. In domestic news, even Republican state legislators are denouncing No Child Left Behind, Phil Gramm is pushing a "dead peasant" insurance" scam, and the Times editorial board raises questions about Bush first stonewalling the 9/11 commission, then insisting it deliver its report well before the election.

New York Times
MoDo, of course, is beyond redemption (back). Katherine Seelye, however, did some actual reportage on Howard Dean, by viewing a lot of tapes from the Vermon regional government-access cable channel. And you know what? "The tapes show Dr. Dean as a no-nonsense decision maker grappling with the stuff of governing ... "I'll tell you something... " Dr. Dean said. "No matter what happens, [Vermont] will always be home." He was suddenly choked up with emotion and tears welled in his eyes. "And I'm going to quit there," he said, hurrying out of the room." Funny the Times is only getting round to this now (Times Ombudsman). Oddly, Times ombudsman Okrent's contact information is missing this week: too much to handle? Here it is, for the convenience of our readers: "The public editor, who serves as the readers' representative, may be reached by e-mail: public@nytimes.com. Telephone messages: (212) 556-7652." Robert Pear reports that tax credits for health insurance are in disarray. 8,374 workers out of 500,000 eligible are on the plan. Why? Because it's a tax credit: first you lay out the money, and next year you get the money back. And the Republicans want to make this a model for making health care accessible to the 43 million citizens without insurance. Tamar Lewis reports that even the advocates of marriage education have no proof that it works. Wingers with integrity are concerned with the Bush administration's approach to civil liberties. Elizabeth Bumiller, analyzing the religiosity of the SOTU address , finds that the Ministry of Fear is alive and fully active in Bush's election bid. And the editorial board weighs in with the view that Scalia should recuse himself from the pending case on Cheney's secretive energy task force, after going duck-hunting with Cheney.

You know, I'm putting the Times last, because it's less interesting to read than the other two, and I never thought I would end up saying that about the LA TImes. But it's true. I think the Times is a paper that has lost its way. The Sunday Times sure does weigh a lot, and there's a lot in it, but it never coheres, and the closer the stories get to real time, the worse the reporting gets. That's why the emergence of real-time, DIY blogging and reporting is potentially so interesting. Mammals against the dinosaurs, with THE PROCESSs coup (back) as the meteor that brought the SCLM down...

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