September 23, 2005
Penguin Family Values? Ludicrous. Monkey Socialism? Profound
"Those who start looking outside the human family for old-fashioned values, in fact, will need to quickly narrow their search terms. They will surely want to ignore practices observed in animals like dolphins (gang rape), chimpanzees (exhibitionism), bonobo apes (group sex) and Warner Brothers cartoon rabbits (cross-dressing). Casting a wide net for chaste and saintly creatures, the mind flails, then comes up mostly empty. Yowling tomcats? Lazy, sexist lions? Preening peacocks? Better stick with the penguins." - From a September 18 editorial, "Penguin Family Values," mocking conservatives for hailing the movie "March of the Penguins."
"Give a capuchin monkey a cucumber slice, and she will eagerly trade a small pebble for it. But when a second monkey, in an adjoining cage, receives a more-desirable grape for the same pebble, it changes everything. The first monkey will then reject her cucumber, and sometimes throw it out of the cage. Monkeys rarely refuse food, but in this case they appear to be pursuing an even higher value than eating: fairness.in a week when fairness was so evidently on the ropes - from the World Trade Organization meeting in Cancn, which poor nations walked out of in frustration, to the latest issue of Forbes, reporting that the richest 400 Americans are worth $955 billion - the capuchin monkeys offered a glimmer of hope from the primate gene pool." - Times editorial writer Adam Cohen, September 21, 2003.
Starring Barbara Bush as Fagin
"An orphan, Oliver lands first in a workhouse (its resemblance to a concentration camp is hardly accidental), and before long finds himself apprenticed to a weak-willed coffin maker. At every turn he is menaced by adults whose grotesqueness, while comical, is also a measure of their moral deformity, and of the ugliness of the society that makes them possible. The worst thing about these villains, who tend to occupy positions of at least relative power, is that they believe their sadism and lack of compassion to be the highest expressions of benevolence. Like Barbara Bush after seeing the 'underprivileged' citizens of New Orleans exiled to the Astrodome, they insist on telling Oliver that things are working out pretty well for him." - A.O. Scott in a review of Roman Polanski's "Oliver Twist," September 23.
Cindy Sheehan, American Idol
"When they finally arrived, Ms. Sheehan, whose son Casey, 24, was killed last year, was treated like a rock star, as children and adults crowded around her, clamoring to shake her hand or get an autograph. The church was an appropriate setting for a protest, said the Rev. David W. Dyson, who helped organize the event. Built in 1857, the church was created as part of the abolitionist movement, and tunnels below were twice used to shelter runaway slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. Mr. Dyson said many people showed up because they respect Ms. Sheehan's willingness to speak out for what she believes." - Marc Santora, September 19.
Katrina: All Washington's Fault
"But if the [Hurricane Katrina] speech helped [Bush] clear his first hurdle by projecting the aura of a president at the controls, it probably did not, by itself, get him over a second: his need to erase or at least blur the image of a White House that was unresponsive to the plight of some of the country's most vulnerable citizens and failed to manage the government competently. Whether he can put a floor under his falling poll numbers, restore his political authority and move ahead with his agenda will determine not just the course of his second term but the strength of his party, which by virtue of having controlled both the White House and the Congress for more than five years has trouble credibly pinning the blame elsewhere." - From a September 16 "news analysis" by White House reporter Richard Stevenson.
Apocalypse in the Park
"What, then, killed the glacier, and how long did it take to die? 'We don't really know,' said Dr. Schaefer, a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. Though his methodical quest could seem of interest only to geology buffs, it may shed new light on the accelerating and persistently controversial phenomenon of global warming, which has chased glaciers into retreat across the planet and could bring New Orleans-style flooding to coastal cities around the world." - Glenn Collins on a researcher analyzing a boulder deposited by a glacier in modern-day Central Park in Manhattan, September 14.
Alessandra's Fun Feminist Fantasy
"'Commander in Chief' is a liberal fantasy, but at a time when conservative Republicans rule and Democrats are on the defensive, it's fun to imagine a woman with a feminist agenda in the situation room while her husband decorates the White House Christmas tree. - TV-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley on the new ABC show starring Geena Davis as America's first female president, September 11.
At Least Bumiller Has Her Priorities Straight
From the political perspective of the White House, Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than an enormous swath of the Gulf Coast. The storm also appears to have damaged the carefully laid plans of Karl Rove, President Bush's political adviser, to make inroads among black voters and expand the reach of the Republican Party for decades to come. - Elisabeth Bumiller, September 12.
Playing the Race Card
"Behind the president's public embrace of [former FEMA head Michael] Brown was the realization within the administration that the director's ignorance about the evacuees had further inflamed the rage of the storm's poor, black victims and created an impression of a White House that did not care about their lives." - Elisabeth Bumiller, September 10.
Worthy of MoveOn.org
"The populism of Huey Long was financially corrupt, but when it came to the welfare of people, it was caring. The churchgoing cultural populism of George Bush has given the United States an administration that worries about the House of Saud and the welfare of oil companies while the poor drown in their attics and their sons and daughters die in foreign deserts." - Former Times Executive Editor Howell Raines in a column for the September 1 edition of the Los Angeles Times.
No "Amigos" for John Roberts at the Times
"Explaining his decision on Judge Roberts, Mr. Reid said in his Senate speech that he simply had 'too many unanswered questions' about the nominee, who he complained had refused to distance himself from seemingly callous writings while a lawyer for the Reagan administration, including a memorandum in which he used the term 'illegal amigos' to refer to illegal immigrants." - Sheryl Gay Stolberg, September 21.