Today I Read the New York Times with You

I haven’t looked at the paper yet. (That’s right, I still read the physical paper. If I still had a day job I’d no doubt be slacking off reading the whole thing online and saving money in the process, but I don’t which means I have to actually work for a living. So today, for the first and possibly past time, you get to follow along while I react to today’s news, as brought to you by the New York Times.

Today’s lead story quotes the (cough) Pentagon as claiming that some roadside bombs used by Iraqi insurgents are manufactured in Iran. It’s just another floater for possibe war against Iran because, hey, we’ve got so many more troops to send to death and so many more billions a week to spend. The money quote:

But just as troubling is that the spread of the new weapons seems to suggest a new and unusual area of cooperation between Iranian Shiites and Iraqi Sunnis to drive American forces out – a possibility that the commanders said they could make little sense of given the increasing violence between the sects in Iraq.

Once again, the crux of cluelessness. The reason “enemy” Sunnis and Shiites are cooperating against us is because they both want us to get the fuck out of their country. What’s surprising about that? Oh, but they’ll have to fight each other after we leave. That’s true. But they have to cooperate in the common fight against the United States if either wants the chance to rule post-Bushite Iraq.

On the editorial page, op-ed “writer” John Tierney has surpassed his reliable inanity:

Polar bears are mammals with a mission, whether it’s Gus obsessively swimming in the Central Park Zoo, or the mother and her cub that I once followed during a dogsled expedition here in the Canadian high Arctic. We watched her with awe and kept our distance, especially after coming across the bloody remnants of her seal dinner on the ice. The message I took home was: “You mess with my habitat, and I’ll mess with you.”

The name of the column: “The Good News Bears.”

Every day I read the New York Times’ entropic op-ed page, I’m reminded of how the nation’s greatest newspaper has a section unworthy of most high school newspapers. Yeah, yeah, I like Krugman too. But still.

Every now and then the Times publishes a piece that makes you wonder why they’re just getting to a story now, months after you’ve already read and digested it. “C.I.A. Leak Case Recalls Texas Incident in ’92 Race” is a classic case. It’s a rehash of something that we Treasongate watchers have long known: Rove has a history of exactly the sort of sorry shit he pulled on Valerie Plame. On the other hand, the Times’ sluggishness has the salutory effect of keeping the story in the news.

There’s a piece about Gitmo getting leaner and (!) meaner:

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Published: August 6, 2005

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 – In a few years, Pentagon officials say, the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, will have undergone a radical transformation.
The sprawling detention site known as Camp Delta, with its watchtowers, double-wide trailers housing rows of steel cells and interrogation rooms will be mostly demolished.
Instead, a sharply reduced inmate population of those the military considers the most hard-core will inhabit two nearby hard-walled modern prisons. The newest of those, which is still under construction, is modeled on a modern county jail in Michigan and is designed to counter international criticism of Guantánamo as inhumane and, to some, a symbol of American arrogance.
The first step in changing the character of Guantánamo, officials say, is to relocate many of the 520 detainees. As part of that effort, Defense and State Department officials said this week that they had reached agreement with Afghanistan to transfer 110 Afghan detainees to their home country. Eventually, the population will be reduced to 320, the capacity of the permanent prison buildings.

Sure, this is Judith Miller-style transcription journalism–some “journalist” typing what some government official tells him–but it’s interesting as a trial balloon/statement of intent. The Gitmo concentration camp is becoming, as its Soviet predessors did, more permanent. It also belies, in the case of the 110 guys being shipped back to Afghanistan, repeated Administration claims that all of the Gitmo detainees were “the worst of the worst,” guys so evil we could never, ever release them.

And now I need coffee. Along with regime change.

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About Ted Rall

Ted Rall is the political cartoonist at, editor-in-chief of, a graphic novelist and author of many books of art and prose, and an occasional war correspondent. He is the author of the biography "Trump," to be published in July 2016.

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