Lest we think media problems are new . . .

Here are a few items from previous centuries:

“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.
Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”
— Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafted the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President
Source: letter to John Norvell, June 11, 1807

“Newspapers have degenerated.
They may now be
absolutely relied upon.”
— Oscar Wilde

“The most important service rendered by the press and the magazines
is that of educating people to approach printed matter with distrust.”
— Samuel Butler


The Wilde quote is ambiguous. “Relied upon” to lead us astray, apparently.

Not for attribution

Historian John Lukacs on The Future of History, title of his newly published book (Yale), as elucidated by reviewer Anne Barbeau Gardiner (New Oxford Review, Jan.-Feb., 2003), italics mine.

What is this thing called history?

The central point of Lukacs’s book is that history is a form of literature and not a science. Yes, professional historians must have “serious archival knowledge and practice,” but they must also be dedicated to finding out the truth about the past.

What’s it for?

“The purpose of history is understanding even more than accuracy (though not without a creditable respect for the latter).” A good history is “unavoidably anthropocentric” because it conveys “the knowledge that human beings have of other human beings.”

[In pursuit of this human element] historians should be willing to consult not only the documentary evidence but also the great literary achievements of past ages . . . .

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Black crime: rock and hard place for police and aldermen

Black aldermen vs. Chi police chief McCarthy. Met with Mayor Rahm’s liaison about murders in their wards.

Ald. Will Burns (4th), who attended the meeting with Hynes, added, “We want peoples’ rights to be respected. But we want more aggressive policing. We want more traffic stops, DUI and seat belt enforcement as a way to find the bad guys.”

Sounds reasonable to me, but years ago stop-and-frisk was a byword for aggressive police action and black citizens and others vociferously objected.

Question would be: Can this Ald. Burns and his fellow Black Caucus members take the heat from the sort of police activity he wants? Can you imagine the uproar in their neighborhoods?

Crime writer sounds like a nun and says so what?

Andrew Klavan — True Crime, Damnation Street, Shotgun Alley and many other books — called the pope’s Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration “luminous,” then worried that he sounded “like a nun.” His hard-guy reputation was at stake.

Then he read Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week from the Entry into Jerusalem to the Resurrection and decided the hell with it, he was willing to risk it.

What’s going on?

Pope Benedict, as I’ve said before, is the Last European, by which I mean the last great man and mind who fully comprehends the beautiful but now dying culture that produced him.

Its appalling to me, though not surprising, that the only thing the mainstream media ever covers about him is how often he apologizes for the abuses of some priests or how politically incorrect his view of gay people is or whatever.

I have now read a good selection of his writings and when the work of Foucault and Derrida and de Man and the rest of that benighted lot has toddled off to the obscurity it so dearly deserves, Benedict’s writings will stand. They may be the final flares of genius to fly up from the continent he loves before darkness closes over it.

Eloquent, that.

A movie to die for

Thinking of seeing “Identity Thief“?

Consider this from Adam Shaw at Catholic News Service:

The film contains skewed moral values, much slapstick and other violence, considerable sexual content including a semi-graphic nonmarital encounter, off-screen masturbation and brief rear nudity, occasional profanity, frequent rough and crude language and an obscene gesture.

Other than that,

Craig Mazin’s screenplay offers few fresh jokes. He relies instead on exploitative sight gags and foul language.

Other than that, it’s a work of art.

What’s a committeeman for anyhow?

Surprise. Harmon is always such an independent thinker:

Senator Harmon (D.-Oak Park) endorses Robin Kelly, salutes Toi Hutchinson

Dear Friend:

I am proud of my friend and colleague, Senator Toi Hutchinson, both for her congressional campaign and for her selfless decision to put the interests of the residents of the Second Congressional District ahead of her own political ambitions.

Selfishly, I’m thrilled that Toi will remain in the Senate. In her time in Springfield, she has demonstrated great abilities as a legislator and a leader, tackling tough issues with equal parts tenacity and grace. She is a highly valued member of our caucus, and I expect that she will exert even more influence, having been battle tested by a hard campaign.

Notwithstanding my gratitude for her return to the Senate, I doubt we will be able to keep her long. Toi’s potential is limitless. I expect she will soon again be courted to run for higher office. Until then, we in the Senate are happy and fortunate to have Toi fully back in our fold. . . . .

. . . . blah blah blah . . . And the machine goes rolling along . . .

NY Times filibustering

NY Times’ Weisman writing on deadline, copy desk snoozing:

Published: February 15, 2013 389 Comments

WASHINGTON As the Senate edged toward a divisive filibuster vote on Chuck Hagels nomination to be defense secretary, SenatorTed Cruz, Republican of Texas, sat silent and satisfied in the corner of the chamber his voice lost to laryngitis as he absorbed what he had wrought in his mere seven weeks of Senate service.

Get a load of that “divisive,” as if filibusters are not divisive by nature.


Mr. Hagel, a former senator from Mr. Cruzs own party, was about to be the victim of the first filibuster of a nominee to lead the Pentagon.

Victim? How about subject? Or object?

Those nits picked, it’s a good profile, on which I congratulate Mr. Weisman.