It's All Milton Friedman's Fault

Plus Death by Blogging and Ben Stein's "Sleazy" New Documentary on Evolution
It's All Milton Friedman's Fault
"Joblessness is growing. Millions of homes are sliding into foreclosure. The financial system continues to choke on the toxic leftovers of the mortgage crisis. The downward spiral of the economy is challenging a notion that has underpinned American economic policy for a quarter-century - the idea that prosperity springs from markets left free of government interference. The modern-day godfather of that credo was Milton Friedman..." - Peter Goodman, April 13.

U.S. "Has Flouted the Basic Principles of Justice" in War on Terror

"There are still hundreds of prisoners held without charge at Guantánamo, and it will in all likelihood be left to the new administration to deal with them. Until it does so, the United States will maintain its reputation as a country that has flouted the basic principles of justice and set a deplorable example for the world." - Reporter Raymond Bonner in the March 18 New York Review of Books.

Top Editor Sees "Some Resemblance" Between Israel, South Africa on Apartheid
"How you feel about Jimmy Carter's book, I guess, depends on whether you think it is a way to shed light on a complicated situation, or just a way to insult Israel. Was he trying, as he says, to provoke a legitimate discussion of the imbalance of power between relatively rich and powerful Israel and the relatively poor and weak Palestinians? Because it is not wrong to see some resemblance to South Africa in the way Israelis drew up Palestinian homelands that serve Israeli interests while leaving the Palestinians poor and divided. Or was he trying to portray the Israelis as evil racists and the Palestinians as innocent victims? Because most experts would say that distorts the reality in Israel." - Executive Editor Bill Keller, April 4 on the Times' "Ask a Reporter" website, answering student questions regarding his recent biography of Nelson Mandela.

No Bouquet for Bush for Global Warming Shift
"But critics - including environmentalists, scientists and lawmakers - said the effort was too little, too late. They accused Mr. Bush of trying to derail legislation that would curb emissions even further. And because he did not offer any specifics for how to reach his 2025 goal, they dismissed the speech as irrelevant." - White House reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, April 17 on Bush's Rose Garden speech on global warming.

OK, What Have You Done With the Real Howard Dean?

"Democrats' Turmoil Tests Party's Low-Key Leader" - Headline to April 2 story on Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard "Yeeaargghh!" Dean.

Who's Detached?
"The first hint that President Bush might be detached from the nation's economic woes was in February, when he conceded that he had not heard about predictions of $4-a-gallon gasoline." - Lead sentence of Sheryl Gay Stolberg's front-page story on gas prices, April 3. Gas prices never approached $4.

She No Like It
"One of the sleaziest documentaries to arrive in a very long time, 'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed' is a conspiracy-theory rant masquerading as investigative inquiry." - The lead sentence of Jeannette Catsoulis's April 18 review of Ben Stein's documentary on evolution and academic freedom, "Expelled."

You're Joking, Right?
"They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece - not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop....some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly." - Matt Richtel's front-page piece on bloggers, April 6.

How Dare the Pope Believe in Something
"His reputation over many years is as a man of doctrinal hardness, who condemns homosexuality and abortion, who regards Catholicism as the only true faith - positions at times difficult to digest in a diverse America." - From an April 13 story Ian Fisher and Laurie Goodstein over the headline, "Hard-Liner With Soft Touch Reaches Out to U.S. Flock."

Still Ticked off About Tom Tancredo
"For now, the demagogues have left the stage. Talk radio has moved on - from fear of Mexicans at Home Depot to fear of a black preacher in a pulpit. Congressman Tom Tancredo is an asterisk again, satisfied that fellow Republicans are trying to out-Tancredo him." - Former reporter Timothy Egan by March 29.

And That's a Bad Thing?
"But philanthropy allows [Americans] to target spending on those they personally believe are deserving, instead of allowing the government to choose. - Economics reporter turned editorial board member Eduardo Porter, March 31.

Environmentalist Hero Worship

"David had only a slingshot. Texans fighting big coal have Robert Redford." - Ralph Blumenthal, April 5 over the headline "Texans Beat Big Coal, And a Film Shows How."

Movie Reviewer Manohla Dargis, Alienated in America

"But Ms. Lessin and Mr. Deal haven't cooked up yet another softheaded story about triumphant humanity; with the help of these New Orleans residents, they have made a powerful political argument, backed by evidence provided by the shaming indifference of the government, that to be poor and black in America is to be an exile in America ." - March 31 review of a documentary about Katrina, by movie critic Manohla Dargis.

There They Go Again

"By the time [director Jules Dassin] wrote and directed "Never on Sunday," a comedy about a good-hearted prostitute, the anti-Communist witch hunt in the United States had been discredited, and he had been accepted again." - April 1 obituary of Jules Dassin by Robert Severo.

No Muckraking Here: Times Defends Southern Democratic Sleaze
"The tradition of Alabama legislators, mostly Democrats, having jobs at the two-year colleges is well-entrenched; the question prosecutors appear to be pursuing is whether they do any work. The emphatic answer from the Democratic side, inevitably, is yes. But even if it were not, the legislators and their lawyers ask, since when is being a slacker a federal crime? 'You could put the whole universe in jail for that,' said State Senator W.H. Lindsey, a Democrat who was not among those subpoenaed. 'Some folks don't like to work.'" - Adam Nossiter, April 6.

Strange New Respect for Survivalists
"Survivalism, it seems, is not just for survivalists anymore. Faced with a confluence of diverse threats - a tanking economy, a housing crisis, looming environmental disasters, and a sharp spike in oil prices - people who do not consider themselves extremists are starting to discuss doomsday measures once associated with the social fringes." - From an April 6 Style section article by Alex Williams.

He Even Sounds Like Jimmy Carter
"Back in the 1970s and '80s, high crime and "get tough" laws meant longer sentences and more emphasis on punishment than on rehabilitation, and the federal and state governments spent billions building prisons. Today, as a legacy of those policies, not only are record numbers incarcerated, but also about 700,000 state and federal prisoners are released annually, many of them with little education or employment prospects and destined to be imprisoned again within a few years." - Reporter (and former Carter administration political appointee) Eric Eckholm, April 8. The article was silent about the drop in crime that resulted from having more criminals in prison.

Have I Made a 9/11 Reference This Week?

"It's easy to forget, given the sensitivities that have been awakened in this country since 9/11, thrusting lifelong citizens under suspicion for having foreign-sounding names and subjecting visitors to the indignity of being fingerprinted, that America was conceived in a spirit of openness, as a land where people could build new identities, grounded in the present and the future, not the past. This dream, despite current fears, has in great part been made real." - Leisl Schillinger, from her cover review in the April 6 Sunday Book Review of a short story collection by Jhumpa Lahiri.

No Left-Wing Assumptions Here
"According to a new study by two groups based in Washington, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the income gap between the have-lots and the have-nots is widening faster in Connecticut than in any other state. " - Alison Leigh Cowan, April 9.

Only in the Times: Critic Finds "Jingoism" in a Journalism Museum?
"The juxtaposition is startling, but also borders precariously on jingoism. The suggestion is that the values of a free press and a free market are one and the same. This sentiment is made explicit in an exhibit of a map of the world in which countries are color-coded according to their level of press freedom. America is green; Russia and China, red." - Architecture critic April 11 on a 9/11 exhibit of the Newseum, by architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff.

Can't Forgive Bush-Supporting Berlusconi
"Silvio Berlusconi, the idiosyncratic billionaire who already dominates much of Italy's public life, snatched back political power in elections that ended Monday, heading a center-right coalition certain to make him prime minister for a third term. But with a weak economy and frustration high that Italy has lost ground to the rest of Europe, it was unclear whether Italians voted for Mr. Berlusconi out of affection or, as many experts said, as the least bad choice after the nation weathered two years of inaction from the fractured center-left....Rejecting the sober responsibility of the departing prime minister, Romano Prodi, Italians chose in a moment of national self-doubt a man whose dramas - the clowning and corruption scandals, his rocky relations with his wife and political partners, his growing hairline and ever browner hair - play out very much in public." - Ian Fisher's front-page story about Silvio Berlusconi, April 15.

Cheerleading for Government-Run Health Care
"In this "Frontline" report on Tuesday night, the Washington Post reporter T. R. Reid travels to five countries - Britain, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland - that manage to provide some form of universal health coverage to their populations. In each nation, he reports, insurance premiums are significantly lower than those in America (in Britain there are none), and the waiting time to see a doctor is either tolerable (in Britain) or nonexistent. This fast-moving and entertaining hour starts from the premise that the American health care system, with its high costs, multiple gatekeepers and failure to provide insurance for much of the population, is a failure. And Mr. Reid makes the case (in about 10 minutes per country) that other capitalist democracies have not just cheaper and more equally available health care, but also better care over all, with longer life expectancies and lower infant mortality rates. - Mike Hale's review of a Frontline documentary, "Sick Around the World," April 15.