I read the Sunday New York Times, so you don’t have to: Jan. 10
1, A front-page profile of Roger Ailes, the head of the right-handed propaganda machine Fox News, concludes with this quote from former Clinton aid James Carville: “If he were a Democrat, I think there would be 67 Democratic senators right now.” Dwell on that for a moment. Should anyone in the media – be they conservative, liberal or middle of the road – have that kind of power to influence who represents us?
2, In yet another alarming front-page story, “Officials Obscured Truth Of Migrant Deaths in Jail,” we learn of 107 known deaths of immigrants while held in detention in this country since 2003, and the extraordinary lengths that were taken to cover up the crimes. In an attempt to halt our slide into South American Banana Republic status, The Times writes, “The Obama administration has vowed to overhaul immigration detention, a haphazard network of privately run jails, federal centers and county cells where the government holds non-citizens while it tries to deport them.”
3, It’s bank bonus season. Less than one year after the bailout, “Goldman Sachs is expected to pay its employees an average of about $595,000 apiece for 2009, one of the most-profitable years in its 141-year history.”
4, Genocide was big in the 20th Century. Between 1915 and 1918, an estimated one million Armenians were murdered by the Ottoman Turks. In “Secrets Revealed in Turkey Revive Armenian Identity,” Fethiye Cetin recalls the day her grandmother, a young girl at the time, “saw men’s throats being cut and bodies being thrown in the Tigris River, which ran red for days.” She watched “her own grandmother drown two of her own grandchildren before she herself jumped into the water and disappeared.”
5, But some folks have stood up against tyranny. Freya Von Moltke has died at age 98. She helped build a group of Nazi resistors that included her husband, who was hanged for his role in an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler. Moltke hid her husband’s letters and documents in beehives around her estate, items that The Times writes “have proved valuable to scholars for their gripping portrayal of heroic, almost certainly futile resistance, as well as their glimpses at daily life in the Third Reich.” Moltke recalled one incident in 1931 or ’32, when she saw a man in the darkness of a movie theater. “I thought to myself, ‘What terrifying eyes,’ ” she said. When the house lights went up, she saw that the eyes had belonged to Hitler.
6, Thankfully, I don’t get The Golf Channel with my cable package, so I’ll never see Being John Daly, a reality show which begins on March 2. Thanks to lap-band surgery, he’s lost 116 pounds, down from a high of 298. “I no longer do the wild and crazy things I used to do,” the 43-year-old bad-guy golfer says, perhaps to the dismay of the show’s producers. Time to start fielding proposals for Being Tiger Woods.
7, Forget oil. The smart technology is going green, and if we don’t get on board, we’ll pay dearly. Thomas L. Friedman notes in his column “Who’s Sleeping Now?” that China understands that the energy technology revolution “is both a necessity and a reality, and they do not intend to miss it.”
8, Frank Rich hauls the banks out into the light of day in his column. “Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin,” he writes in “The Other Plot to Wreck America” in The Week in Review. Without a withering investigation, the status quo will remain. “That’s the ticking time bomb scenario that truly imperils us all.”
9, Sunday Styles, where I rarely linger except to laugh at the photos of celebrities with dogs in their purses, writes of the urban caveman movement. This involves keeping a freezer of meat and organs in your New York City apartment. “The caveman lifestyle,” it reports, “involves eating large quantities of meat and then fasting between meals to approximate the lean times that his distant ancestors faced between hunts. Vegetables and fruits are fine, but he avoids foods like bread that were unavailable before the invention of agriculture.”
10, A page from Arts & Leisure reminds us of actors who never could escape their most-prominent roles. Dawn Wells, of course, as Gilligan Island‘s Mary Ann. Jamie Farr as M*A*S*H‘s Cpl. Maxwell Klinger. Larry Storch as F Troop‘s Cpl. Randolph Agarn. The 83-year-old Storch still has the battered cavalry hat he wore in the show. Despite his role as the face people remember when thinking of bumbling Indian fighters, “The most money I ever made,” Storch says, “was in a McDonald’s hamburger commercial.”
11. The reputation of Wernher von Braun, the German rocket scientist who we kept out of the Soviets’ hands at the end of World War II and spirited away to the U.S. to built our own space program, gets busted up pretty good in a review of Dark Side of the Moon: Wernher von Braun, the Third Reich, and the Space Race. Far from an unfortunate victim pushed into creating the missiles that the Nazis rained down upon London, “he was a member of the Nazi Party and the SS, and knew he was developing weapons at Peenemunde and that the weapons were manufactured by slave labor,” reviewer David Holloway writes of Wayne Biddle’s book. Biddle thoughtfully questions how, Holloway writes, “scientists and engineers, by claiming to be ‘apolitical,’ often escape being held to account for what they help to produce.”
12, The Book Review’s final count for 2009 says that the weekly hardcover non-fiction list featured 26 conservative-oriented books listed at No. 1 (paced by Mark R. Levine’s anti-Obama Liberty and Tyranny), compared to only two for liberal books. In what I’m sure is an unrelated matter, the trade paperback list was dominated by two books featuring zombies, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and World War Z.