SINCE 1759

Free alert to Candide's Notebooks
Your email:


The Daily Journal
Candide’s Latest: December 5, 2006

Quick Links

Military-Industrial Simplex
If I.F. Stone Could See This

They live for this [Centcom photo]

Joe Bageant, author of the forthcoming “Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War,” writes at Counterpunch: “Is the consumerist totalization of this country and the world really a conscious plot by a handful of powerful corporate and financial masters? If we answer "yes" we find ourselves trundled off toward the babbling ranks of the paranoid. Still though, it's easy enough to name those who would piss themselves with joy over the prospect of a One World corporate state, with billions of people begging to work for their 1,500 calories a day and an xBox chip in their necks. […] Consider this: The war in Iraq has been immensely profitable for the people who make weapons and for the contractors who supposedly rebuild what the weapons destroy. They profit in either case. And the longer war goes on the more they will make. Meanwhile, the money for both is obtained through extraction practiced upon the world's laboring poor. But the big money, the "juice" as street people used to say, comes from squeezing the orange of American society for more work, more production and tax money. Some of us older oranges are feeling pretty wrung out these days and are getting hard as hell to get along with. Yet, the squeeze doesn't seem to bother most Americans at all. The pressure has been so great and so constant that no one any longer feels it. It has become so pervasive as to be incomprehensible to ordinary people. For example, seventy cents of every income-tax dollar goes to pay for past, present, and future wars. Education gets two cents. As Michael Parenti has pointed out, the cost of military aircraft parts and ammunition kept in storage by the Pentagon is greater than the combined federal spending on pollution control, conservation, community development, housing, occupational safety, and mass transportation all put together. And the US Navy spends more money in its never ending development of a submarine rescue vehicle than is spent for public libraries, occupational safety, and daycare centers combined. Collectively, these financial super-elites, who either do or do not exist, must be at least somewhat aware that they are managing the world.” See the full piece…

Newspaper Suicide
A Dumber Wall Street Journal?

Disappearing beef

Say what you will about the Goebbelsian editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, the newspaper as a whole is the smartest, best-written, and often enough better informed in America. But newspapers have been going dumb in a desperate attempt to hold on to readers and advertising base and please… Wall Street. The Journal should have been above it all. The New York Times, too. Both are succumbing. Beginning on January 2, the Journal’s width will shrink from 60 inches to 48, reducing news content (what the industry calls, in an unwitting admission of news’ place among advertising, the “news hole”) by at least 10 percent. Journal executives say the reduction will be done mostly at the expense of stock tables (and what will happen to those stock tables?) and “tighter editing.” But the Journal is already the most tightly edited English-language paper on the planet next to The (even better written) Economist (which also likes to call itself a “newspaper” and which, so far, is the last great hope for the Fourth Estate). “Tighter editing” is code for shorter, dumber stories. It’s what all newspaper designers and executives must say to allay the fears of their staffs and counter the suggestion, so rife among feckless bloggers for instance, that the “product” is whirlpooling down a toilet. Journal executives unveiled their new “product” at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York Monday morning. Journal readers got a glimpse of what the new thing will look like, through a double-page ad showing the diminished pages and the oversize graphics that will soon be smashing the front page. “When asked if the Journal was going to take a ‘lighter’ approach, [Journal Publisher Gordon] Crovitz said the Journal will continue to be essential reading for people of all ages. [Managing Editor Paul] Steiger added that it’s only one more step in an evolution the paper started taking when it introduced Weekend Journal, Personal Journal, and the Weekend Edition.” Not quite: those three evolutionary steps were additions and improvements, nut subtractions and eliminations. The Journal at any rate has already began its draw-down. No need to wait for the January cut-backs. Like most American media outfits, it had declared Canada non-existent by closing all its Canadian bureaus. In the 1980s the advertising tag line of the Journal was “The Daily Diary of the American Dream,” or something like that. End of dream. I’m not looking for ward to the morning of January 2. Next up: The New York Times’ diminution, which is reducing its width (already smaller than the old Journal) by an inch and a half in 2008. And, of course, cutting jobs. It’s all about saving on newsprint and fattening up the bottom line. Journalism? Please.

Anchors in Bed
Katie & Charlie & Brian & Bushy

New York Magazine’s Adam Sternbergh attends the daily evening wake that’s become America’s evening news on the networks and comes away with the standard, if oddly star-struck, eulogy: “Of the three, NBC Nightly News has the front-runner’s swagger. (It pulls in over 9 million viewers, followed closely by ABC, then not so closely by CBS.) [Brian] Williams has every reason to be confident; NBC’s anchor succession was the smoothest, and the only one that didn’t have the air of a palace coup. Also, he’s surrounded by stars, trotting out Tim Russert and Tom Brokaw for Election Night analysis. But not every night can be Election Night. On one newscast, the big scoop was a sit-down with President Bush, conducted by Maria Bartiromo—in which the only notable moment was Bush’s oft-blogged-upon remark about using “the Google.” This is what drives networks crazy about blogs: that they feed parasitically on the networks’ access. And this is what drives blogs crazy about networks: When they get access, this is the best they can do with it. […] Charles Gibson, on the other hand, is all grim purpose; I never saw him host Good Morning America, but it’s hard to imagine him as someone you’d want to wake up with.[…] But behind the anchor desk, he’s deadly straight—a stance that actually plays well amid the medicinal air of World News. […]And then there’s Katie. There’s no reason that a female anchor—and she’s! The! First!—can’t be taken seriously. But she doesn’t help her cause by starting each program with “Hi, everyone,” as though calling a parent-teacher meeting to order. And it must be said: The raccoon eye makeup is startling.” See the full piece…

Wash of Civilizations
Toilets’ Haves and Have-Nots

Thanks to Sign and Sight, Germany’s web-based compendium of the best of the (mostly European) press, we find out that Mario Vargas Llosa, speaking to Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, “was astounded by the UN report "Beyond scarcity: power, poverty and the global water crisis", which he says should be compulsory reading despite its bureaucratic prose. "When you read the report, the first thing that strikes you is that the flagship of civilisation and progress is not the book, the telephone, the Internet or the atom bomb, but the toilet. Where the human being empties his bowels and bladder, determines whether he has fallen into the barbarity of underdevelopment or is in the ascent. The personal consequences of this simple, transcendental fact are awe-inspiring. One third of the global population – around 2.6 billion people – has no knowledge of toilets, latrines and cesspits and answers nature's call under trees, by streams and springs or in plastic bags and tin cans. And a further billion uses for drinking, cooking and washing, water that is contaminated by human and animal faeces.” Too bad a fuller translation of Vargas Llosa’s words isn’t available.

Between Ebb and Flow
Islam and the Enlightenment

Abdelwahab Meddeb is a Tunisian writer who’s written frequently about the divide between East and West, and particularly Islam and the West and the divides within Islam. His latest, for Logos Journal, is on Islam and the Enlightenment, a retread of the thesis that Islam seeded the Enlightenment (and has its principles within its core), but then fell victim to European Enlightenment’s effects: “Islam can be doubly associated with the spirit of the Enlightenment.  Long before, as early as the middle of the eighth century, it produced the premises of the Enlightenment; afterwards, starting in the nineteenth century, it experienced its effects,” but we also “see the absence of a notion of freedom in the social and political sense, [so] that we observe the failure to emerge of any rudiments that might lead to the crystallization of the notion of the individual.  The praise of reason, or its triumph over dogma, did not take notice of the warning signs of the problems to come.” See the full essay…

Faces of Hezbollah, Front & Back
Thanks to Josyane Boulos in Beirut



| permalink

Bookmark and Share

Read Pierre’s Latest at

The Latest Comments

Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe in Rojo   Add to My AOL Subscribe in FeedLounge Add to netvibes Subscribe in Bloglines Add to The Free Dictionary