Tuesday, May 18, 2004


I believe I should offer an explanation of one of the phrases I frequently use within my columns. This phrase is front-page-above-the-fold (FPAF).

What this refers to is the placement of an article in the morning paper. While I usually use it within the context of a criticism of the paper of record (the appellation of which the referred paper worked hard to distance itself from four Sunday editions ago. “Paper of Record? No Way, No Reason, No Thanks” April 25, 2004), it can equally apply to any daily broadsheet.

The purpose of the FPAF descriptor is to point out editorial bias. When the paper is laid out, someone makes the decision on where particular news reports, news analysis, human interests stories, etc will be presented to its morning readers. Barefoot and heading pounding from caffeine withdrawal, you walk to the end of the driveway grateful that the paper was not thrown into the dewy grass, you pick-up the paper and quickly scan the front-page-above-the-fold. Bang! Your framework for that morning’s news is set.

It also happens to act as the cover of the paper when presented at the newsstands. If you’re waiting for the train and forgot to bring something to read on the ride (a thought that has me in a cold sweat. The horror!), then you scan across the various dailies to see what articles you think are most interesting. As the front-page articles usually receive the most column space, these act as an indication of what you will read as you sit on the train (and if it is a Metro-North train, in an air-conditioned car!) This is a concept we have no problems applying to magazine covers. What makes us think it doesn’t apply to newspapers?

So this morning The Journal News was greeted me with a headline regarding the assassination via car bomb of the head of the Iraqi Governing Council (The paper was in the driveway.) The New York Sun greeted me with the headline “Sarin-Laced Bomb Reverberates in Washington”. (The paper was in the dewy grass.) Neither headline surprised me. I considered both pieces of news the biggest ones of the previous day. I was very disappointed that The Journal News did not mention the WMD, I mean sarin-laced bomb, on the front page at all.

With these two front pages on my mind by 6:30 AM, my curiosity was piqued about what would lead the FPAF of The New York Times (the already-mentioned three papers, along with The Wall Street Journal, make-up my daily news-reading.) I walked into the station house around 7:00 AM in the midst of a Rotisserie baseball discussion with my brother, another early morning ritual. And what were the FPAF stories? One sixth of the FPAF covered the assassination. Nowhere was the WMD, I mean sarin-laced bomb, mentioned. But how could it be when the paper-of-record had to devote equal space to MPs’ receiving orders to strip Iraqis? I guess its readership can never get enough forced male nudity stories!

Now the mathematicians in my audience have discerned that I have only accounted for two sixths of the FPAF. (For those numerically-challenged, 1/6 plus another equal amount is 2/6. Never mind reducing that fraction. This tangent has been explored enough!) What happened to the other four sixths? It was devoted to, and a quote of the headline should be adequate, “Hundreds of Same-Sex Couples Wed in Massachusetts” There was no exclamation point, but it is understood. After all why devote 4/6 of the front-page headlines to something that is not exclamation point worthy when the previous days news included a WMD, I mean sarin-laced, bomb being detonated by terrorists in Iraq and the assassination of the head of the Iraqi Governing Council?

All this leads me towards an op-ed piece in this morning’s The New York Sun. It was penned by none other than the former executive editor of the paper of record, A.M. Rosenthal. Within the text of the article, which scolds today’s press for failing to include background on the “mass Iraqi torture and murder” under Saddam Hussein, Mr. Rosenthal discloses the well-know secret amongst conservatives, and the blacked-out one amongst the Left, that “Readers should realize that the positioning of the story and the space allotted to it day after day tell you what the editors and publishers think about its importance….”

So would Mr. Rosenthal agree that The New York Times cares most about men being forced to get naked by other men and about men marrying men and women marrying women as opposed to WMDs?

Thursday, May 13, 2004


Abu Ghraib. I just don’t care. Or better said, I just don’t care to the extent equal to the fervor being exhibited by Democrats and other anti-Administration mouthpieces. When I viewed the photos I thought they reflected a sexual perversion on the parts of the soldiers more so than that which I usually consider torture, such as cutting off someone’s head. I just can’t find a swell of outrage over psychological humiliation. Maybe it has something to do with terrorists continuing to kill Coalition soldiers. Maybe not.
If I did, I am sure I’d be able to wield the word “torture” with all the fury visceral disgust and hate can fuel. Unlike the Democrats and anti-Bush mouthpieces, I can’t do it. I don’t even want to couch my reaction in the ever-face saving platitudes about how bad the soldiers’ behavior was and how we have to punish them. Blah, blah, blah. (I will say that I wouldn’t be surprised to see those individuals, in civilian clothes, show-up on Taxi Cab Confessions or some other cable outlet for the sexually perver…off-beat.)

And if I could be inured any further by the effluviations of the Democrats and anti-Bush mouthpieces, it would have occurred this morning when The New York Times (I know. Redundant. I already mentioned “anti-Bush mouthpieces”.) ran an above-the-fold front page article declaring that we have used “harsh” methods to interrogate captured senior members of Al Qaeda. I’m having one of those Twilight Zone moments when I’m screaming and no one can hears me.

“Harsh” treatment of Al Qaeda???? What the Hell is wrong with the Left? Do they so lust for power again that they will side with anyone? Even those avowed to killing us? (And that includes the Left, the morons!)

Or are they in a Viagra-induced whirlwind over the re-living of their glory years as anti-Vietnam, pro-Communist protestors and agitprops? Are there other reasons for the equating of homosexual (not that there is anything wrong with that) humiliation with physical torture?

Can we have a discussion regarding what the Left thinks we should be doing? Or is this just like the solutions to how high taxes should be or how we deal with the pan-Arab terrorists in Iraq? Potshots from the Peanut Gallery!

Is there any questioning why I care more about the Coopers and the Cohens in The O.C. than I do about some homo-erotic, sado-masochist “torture” photos?

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

As the John Kerry wrapped-up the Democratic nomination, I looked forward to an examination of the Vietnam era. I have always had an uneasy feeling the winners of the conflict, the war protestors, wrote the history as is the spoils of such resolution. Now the political process appears to be delving into the nitty gritty of that era.

Senator Kerry (and I presume he will keep his seat even if he loses in November) chose to enlist. Many others did not. This decision is being played out on the campaign trail where the Kerry campaign uses his service as a political weapon to attack the President and Vice President while simultaneously using this same service as an aegis to protect the presumptive Democratic nominee from serious questions about his associations and behaviors after the war.

Are we attacking one man’s patriotism, and by extension his character, by asking him to explain his post-war actions, as the Kerry camp, would have us believe? Or does his character need to be questioned based on his actions and associations after the war, as the Bush Administration would have us believe?

It is on this political and intellectual battlefield where I hope to have my doubts about recent history answered, and it is here where I will judge whether the elite media and culture can allow an open and honest review of the war in Vietnam and its effects upon our society.

Glory Days

Vietnam is back! After three decades or so, the power elite in the media and their younger disciples, who were suckled and mentored on the past glories of the Vietnam era, gets to relive those glory days. If it isn’t the elites’ ability to avoid service during the war, it is the anti-war protests of the war. This is being played out on the campaign trail where, the Kerry campaign and the mass media use John Kerry’s service as a political weapon to attack the President and Vice President while simultaneously being used as an aegis to protect the presumptive Democratic nominee from serious questions about his actions after the war and the groups he supported.

While The President’s service in the National Guard is fair game, the actions of the presumptive nominee, while occurring at the same time, are not.

Where Walter Cronkite declared the war lost, Ted Koppel decided to reach for that same glory and read the names of our brave servicemen who gave their lives to protect us from the forces of terror.

And now, Seymour Hersch is back. After exposing My Lai, he is back to exposing military malfeasance. Not Saddam Hussein’s actions but U.S. military torture. Not the kind suffered by Daniel Pearl, the reporter who was kidnapped by terrorists and had his head cut-off, nor the kind suffered by Italian security officer, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, who defied his Iraqi captors and was shot in the head. No, this type of torture, as splashed across the website of Mr. Hirsch’s employer, would be more aptly described as “humiliation”. Iraqi men are naked and posed in compromising positions. If I had the pornography filter on, I would not have been able to few the photos being used as validation of U.S. atrocity by the domestic anti-war relics, the international community, and the Middle East.

Oh, yes, the glory days are back. Can’t wait for the revilement of our military to begin.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Two Plus Two

After fetching the Saturday morning’s newspaper from the driveway, I pulled that day’s paper from the blue plastic bag The New York Times is delivered in. There, on the front page, was a picture of the former Republican Guard general Jasim Muhammad Salih. From the red beret to the khaki-colored uniform to the distinctive black mustache, this man set-off alarms of “Saddam Hussein! Saddam Hussein!”

Why? On Thursday, the same paper ran a front page story that cited Pentagon intelligence papers that stated the killers in Fallujah were being directed by Saddam Hussein’s secret service in plans set before the freeing of Iraq. From these two articles published only two days apart, I am led to conclude that the U.S. has just helped reconstitute the Saddam Hussein regime.

My next thought was one of concurrence with the Bush-Is-an-Idiot crowd (and there are a lot of them. It seems the publishing industry cannot get out enough polemics devoted to this myth. Of course, once the election is over, all those books won’t be worth the hourly-wage that will be paid to the book store clerks to mark then down and dump them in the discount bin!)

But after some dissonance-soothing reflection, I saw an additional facet to this recent development. Given the Shiite majority in the country and its connections to the Iranian theocrats across the border, could the CPA, and by extension, the Administration, be putting in place system of checks-and-balances that is the hallmark of our own government? The Kurds in the north of Iraq aren’t going to give-up their current form of government, No-Fly Zone-nurtured democracy, and the Shiia in the south will have the power of mob democracy. What the Administration needed was to give the Sunni’s something to preserve against the mob of Shiia. A reach, but given the fact we do not know everything that occurs in foreign policy, there must be some undisclosed reasoning/intelligence that would lead the CPA to take this course of action. Why The New York Times would put that photo on the front page is understandable given their anti-Bush bent.

But could the Bush Administration have been as stupid as the combination of these two articles makes it appear? Or could this be a deliberate action on the Administration’s part that will come back and bite the Left in the ass and make them look as if their insults of Bush’s intellect were nothing more than the classic Freudian defense mechanism, projection?

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