Sunday, July 31, 2005

Kinsley Goes Out With The Gracelessness That Has Marked His Whole Tenure In L.A.

Written from Anchorage, Alaska--

Michael Kinsley is going out with the same gracelessness that has marked his entire tenure in Los Angeles, calling his critics idiots and again defending his scatterbrained editorial stands as admirable.

The fact is that Kinsley, a Seattle resident who never worked very hard at his job as editor of the editorial pages, was responsible for losing the L.A. Times many subscribers, and proved himself not much of a journalist period.

In all likelihood, he was forced out. When John Carroll, who hired him and was his strongest backer, went into retirement early, that left Kinsley reporting to the new publisher, Jeffrey Johnson, and it appears Johnson wisely lost no time telling him to make his excuses and get out.

Carroll, by contrast, in his parting interviews has been restrained in his wording.

What is there against Kinsley?

1. He didn't believe in the use of confidential sources and failed to back Judy Miller of the New York Times in her fight with a corrupt judiciary.

He had no discernible position on the War on Terror.

He criticized President George W. Bush but then didn't have the courage to support Sen. John Kerry in his challenge to him.

He purged half the editorial board, including such talented writers as Molly Selvin and Alex Raksin.

He got into a brawl with Susan Estrich when she had the temerity to insist on more women writing on the op-ed page. In this he was carrying water for Carroll, who didn't like Estrich for her criticisms of him.

He didn't answer his phone or answer many of his e-mails.

He introduced broad changes on the editorial pages, but then didn't fight to implement them.

In short, he didn't have the courage of his convictions, didn't have that many convictions, was an ersatz rather than a real liberal, and was the worst editorial page editor at the Times since before Otis Chandler became publisher in 1961.

The next editorial pages editor should be a Californian and work full time at the job.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

There Seems To Be Some Foolish Liberal Antipathy To Alaska

Written from Anchorage, Alaska--

Twice in the last several days, I've received messages from liberals complaining that Alaska is a sponge on the rest of the country, the recipient of too much in federal funds.

This strikes me as utter hogwash. It sounds like the nuts who said Seward's $7.2 million purchase of Alaska from Russia, in 1867 was "Seward's Folly."

Anyone who doesn't realize the inestimable benefit to the rest of the country of the state of Alaska needs to realize that in mineral wealth alone this state has returned its value a thousandfold to the union. This was the smartest thing Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State, ever did, his purchase of Alaska.

Now, as is customary, whenever a state ends up with members of Congress who build tenure, and are successful in pork barreling, there's jealousy. There are always many whiners who feel that for every dollar paid by a state in taxes, a single dollar ought to be returned in benefits, and not a penny more.

If that principle were followed through, there'd be no money for defense of the whole.

But, surely, some states do better in Congress than others because they've elected the same members time and time again. Washington state, with Magnuson and Jackson in the Senate, was a good example a few years ago. When the eruption of Mt. St. Helens occurred, the result was that the federal government paid the full cost of dredging the Columbia River and all the other volcanically-caused damages.

But this was not wrong. It was a benefit to Washington and Oregon, true, but we all benefit indirectly when any one or two states benefit. The new federal budget contains hundreds of millions of dollars to start a new bridge which will allow Anchorage to expand. I say, hooray. Maybe next year, it will be Los Angeles' turn for subway funds.

Alaska is a huge state, one fifth the size of the whole Union, and, naturally, it needs more money for roads and other public works than small states. But a prosperous, well-developed Alaska will return many times what it is given.

There is a short growing season here, and a short tourist season. The economy has special needs. It is not easy to do business here.

But this is not a lazy state. Far from it. Alaskans by and large work hard at developing their state. They deserve every bit of support they get.

To each according to his needs. From each according to his abilities. It sounds like a Communist slogan, but it's important in any developing state. There's something peculiar about liberal views these days. It seems they don't want to do the things and spend the money to continue our tradition as a great country.

It's the same idea that you hear in Los Angeles that Southern Californians shouldn't contribute to a new Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Let the North pay for it, some say.
But this is the same kind of bunk we now hear about Alaska. If you have a state, if you have a nation, everyone contributes, and at times some places get more aid than others. That's what a state or nation are all about.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Marla Cone Book On Arctic Gets Good Review In "Nature"

Written from China Poot Bay, Alaska--

Sitting at dinner in a wilderness lodge, one of the other guests told me he had an article from the journal, "Nature," on Marla Cone's book, "Silent Snow; The Slow Poisoning of the Arctic." And he loaned it to me for the evening.

I'm glad to see Cone, who I've always had a high opinion of, got such a markedly friendly article in a tough-minded scientific magazine, and that her book will apparently have quite a bit of impact.

There's a great deal of talk here in Alaska about global warming and its effects, but less talk about the subject Cone has written about -- the collection of pollutants in the Arctic, slowly contaminating the traditional diet of the Eskimos and other Arctic residents.This phenomenon could also one day kill off the polar bear, a topic the Anchorage newspaper has given front page coverage to while I've been in the state.

It shows how important it is for a newspaper like the L.A. Times to make the kind of special assignment that allowed Cone over a protracted period to research this topic.

It's worth continuing her assignment. The Nature article suggests Cone should also have interviewed native Siberians who also face these problems.

And, coincidentally, my own trip is headed north toward the Arctic starting tomorrow. First, I'm going to Anchorage for the weekend, then on to a wilderness camp in Denali, then to Fairbanks and then to Barrow, at least briefly. Just in time too. Barrow will see the first sunset since May next week, and it will shortly turn colder there.

"Nature" says, "Silent Snow" is an important book that should be read by environmentalists, scientists, politicians and the public. The environmental problem of manmade chemicals, addressed in this and previous books, should send a clear message to this and the rest of the world."

I was proud to tell the other guest I knew Cone and that she was a thoroughly admirable person.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tribune Co. Owners May Be Susceptible To Pressure On Future Of L.A. Times

Written from China Poot Bay, Alaska--

A friend of mine in Los Angeles' corporate community e-mailed me he was not optimistic about the chances of a staff protest from the L.A. Times to cost cutting ordered by the Tribune Co. at the Times. He suggested corporations are notorious for their hardnosed attitudes toward such efforts.

He could be right, because corporate America is one of the biggest dummies in the world today. We see it at General Motors, for one.

But I'm guessing that right now there must be considerable angst at the Tribune Co., about the state of affairs at their 2000 aquisition, the L.A. Times.

After all, circulation is way down, their editor has just quit earlier than expected, their new editor is giving interviews far and wide about the dangers of cost cutting. Just how insensitive can these louts be at the corporate headquarters in Chicago?

My guess is that if they can give themselves half an excuse for doing so, the Tribune owners may cut a little slack for the L.A. Times.

They could start by freezing the cost cutting for a few months, while they tell the even more loutish people on Wall Street it is necessary.

And that's where the Times staff comes in. It cannot be shy about expressing itself in the present circumstances. It has to make some noise if there is to be even a moderately satisfactory result.

The Times staff already has a not undeserved reputation for being troublemakers.

"I was too poor to yield," was one of the most memorable policy explanations of Charles de Gaulle for how difficult he could make himself. The Times staff right now is in the same position. More cutbacks at the Times could easily ruin the paper, making it a laughing stock throughout the nation.

The rest of the press is paying attention to the Times, and not even the dullards in Chicago can really afford to ignore that.

So, I'd say, let's get started. Let's put some pressure on the Tribune leaders and remind them of their responsibilities. It may even help the Tribune Co., if the Times should rise above the present crisis.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

With London and Sharm el-Sheik Attacks, Maybe L.A. Times Will Start Calling Terrorists Terrorists On Regular Basis

Written from China Poot Bay, Alaska --

With the London and Sharm el-Sheik attacks, and Michael Kinsley's blessed move to quit as editorial pages editor, maybe the L.A. Times will begin, on a regular basis, to call the terrorists "terrorists," rather than "militants."

This has been a sore point at the Times, for too long. It's high time the paper show its readers it stands consistently on the right side in the struggle now rending the world.

So I think it would be best to make an overt style change, one announced in the paper. Some subscribers may come back right away.

Also, I hope the Times will now make clear editorially that it stands by Judy Miller and her courageous stand against the nation's courts' attempt to do away with the First Amendment.

Just as when the Berlin Wall came down, it didn't take long for the Communist order to collapse in Eastern Europe, so, with the end of the Carroll-Kinsley order at the Times, the newspaper should make it plain quickly that widespread policy objections have been heard and will be acted upon.

I certainly don't expect the Times to become a conservative paper. It will remain a moderately liberal one, I'm sure. But certain excesses. amd the confusion generated so often by Kinsley, can and must stop.

Now May Be The Time For Staff Activism Toward Tribune Co. At L.A. Times

Written from China Poot Bay, Alaska--

Soon after the L.A. Times was sold to the Tribune Co. in 2000, and CEO Mark Willes was sent packing with an overly-generous severance package, the University of Oregon gave the Times staff an award for its activism in protesting Willes and Kathryn Downing's involvement in the Staples scandal.

It was the decision of the Tribune-appointed editor, John Carroll, not to publish a word of the Oregon award in the Times. Carroll was anxious to put the spirit of rebellion in the Times staff behind him, not to encourage more of it.

But this may well be the time for Times reporters and editors to make known directly to Tribune management their antipathy to any further cost cutting at the Times, and to the unambitious attidude the Tribune Co. has shown to its star paper in Los Angeles.

Such an activist revival by the staff could well put Dean Baquet, the new editor, in a stronger position in negotiating with the Tribune owners, and could even fortify the backbone of Jeffrey Johnson, the new publisher.

It goes without saying, of course, that any such activism must be done independently of Baquet and Johnson. Perhaps it would be even better if they were known to be opposed to restlessness of the staff.

Certainly, the staff should be restless. There are many reports of further impending cutbacks at the Times that could cost many more staff jobs, could result in further losees of advertising and circulation, and keep the paper on a downward spiral.

It's time for a staff meeting. I'm not advocating any pointless move toward unionization, the wrong way to go. But I am saying a little noise now could avoid more discomfort later.

I'm sure the Times has many staff members ready to speak to the Tribune ownership in no uncertain terms.

And, so, as President Lincoln once cabled the governor of Pennsylvania: "The necessity of being READY increases. Look to it."

The Times staff should rise again for a quality paper, just as they did when they knocked down Willes and Downing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Kinsley Move Marks Real End Of Carroll Era

Written from China Poot Bay, Alaska--

The announcement, in the New York Times no less, that Michael Kinsley will be stepping down as L.A. Times editorial pages editor marks the real end of the Carroll editorship at the paper and. despite the fact that Kinsley was not supposed to be reporting to him, an auspicious beginning for Dean Baquet as editor.

The appointment of Kinsley by Carroll last year, on the basis that he would live half time in Seattle, where he continued to vote, was quite simply a mistake, and it was quickly compounded by Kinsley's inconsistencies of view and many changes on the editorial page. including his purge of half the staff.

Normally, I try to be gracious, but, what the hell, I'm glad to see Kinsley go, even if he does go to a column or some such. The last straw was his failure to back Judy Miller and the New York Times on the importance of the confidentiality of sources.

This is fortunate, too, for the new publisher, Jeffrey Johnson. His next choice for editorial page editor probably should be a Californian, although Andres Martinez is a legitimate candidate.

Baquet has a challenging time ahead. First, he must convince Chicago it is crazy to keep cutting back the paper. Getting rid of Kinsley may help in this, since Kinsley had alienated many subscribers and there is now more hope of arresting the circulation decline. Perhaps Baquet can persuade Chicago to hold back on cost cutting and wait to see whether circulation rises

For once, Chicago should recognize that Los Angeles Times success is important to that company, if only to help set a good sales price for the Times. Perhaps, in the meantime, Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons can be farmed out to the Aruba police force to help in the search for the missing Holloway girl. Norman Pearlstine, chief editor of Time, Inc., could go with him.

With the War on Terror expanding in scope, more attention is being paid on a daily basis to the news. This may enhance circulation.

I presume the Tribune Co. won't give Kinsley the severance that Mark Willes got. So, today, let's smile and say good riddance. Hopefully, better times (Times) are ahead.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Alaska Is Indeed Quite Different

Written from China Poot Bay, Alaska

Having been in Alaska nearly a month now on what is a comprehensive trip that is by no means over, I do have some impressions, and as a Californian they are not altogether positive. But I am enjoying the trip.

Global warming or not, this remains a very cool place in the summer, with a growing season so short that few fruits or vegetables grow here. Going to the weekly farmer's market in Homer the other day, virtually everything they had for sale had actually been grown in the Lower 48. It's like us buying fruit from Chile in the winter; it just doesn't taste the same. But the homegrown lingonberry jam was good.

This huge state, one fifth the size of the U.S. as a whole, has a population less than 800,000 still, and nearly half of those live in the Anchorage area. There is a saying in Anchorage, "Go 20 miles in any direction and you're in Alaska." In other words, the unpopulated bush is much more typical here than the cities.

I have yet to see either a moose or a bear. But the salmon are thicker than I had been led to imagine, and I probably will see bear and moose next week when I get to Denali.

This place not only has a short growing season, but even its trees don't look too wholesome in much of the state, and much of it is beyond the tree line, as the Aleutians are.

You can read that the glaciers are retreating. This is true, but there are still many glaciers that reach the sea and I've been seeing a lot of them. Alaska still has thousands of glaciers.

Another big volcanic eruption, like the Katmai in 1912, might even take care of the global warming for awhile by filling the atmosphere with aerosols and reducing the average temperature for three or four years at least. Then the glaciers would start advancing again.

Cariboo, buffalo, reindeer sausage and even musk ox are frequently on the menus here, and all are quite good.

It is not as expensive a state as I'd been led to believe. Food in the restaurants is certainly cheaper than Los Angeles as far as the top restaurants go.

Beware of assuming that the halibut you ship home will get there safely. I sent 67 pounds of halibut from Dutch Harbor to my daughter and close friends. The friends got their's, had a party last night, and assured me it was FABULOUS. But Fed Ex told my daughter they had lost her halibut for three days in the Oakland Airport and by the time they claimed they had found it, it was spoiled. I don't think I'm going to have to pay for that shipment.

Don't believe, by the way, all this talk about needing to make reservations everywhere you go during the high tourist season here. I haven't had any trouble finding places to stay, although the two wilderness lodges I'm staying in this week and next did have to be reserved months in advance, and I reserved a cabin on the state ferry to the Aleutians a year in advance.

The summer is so short, this is not a great state for the tourist businessmen and women, regardless of the summer visit surge. Many entrepreneurs are having trouble making ends meet.

Alaska is conservative, another example of the Mountain West. But, as readers of this blog know, that's fine by me

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Time Magazine Sinks Deeper Into Dishonor With Articles on Rove and Cooper's Conversations

Written from Homer, Alaska --

Norman Pearlstine, editor in chief of Time Inc., sunk into dishonor when he caved into the courts and the special prosecutor and began discussing Karl Rove, his White House correspondent, Matt Cooper, and the Valerie Plame case. Pearlstine should have gone to jail hinself rather than disgraced himself..

Now, after a week of saying little, Time gives the Valerie Plame leak and Rove full treatment. Cooper even has an article on what he told the Grand Jury, when he should have told the Grand Jury nothing.

Time let Judith Miller of the New York Times go to jail alone, standing up alone for press rights under the First Amendment, when it should have stood fast by her side.

Cooper's article this week, which I just read in the Homer Library, is extremely self-serving. This cop-out should have written nothing. Now, he has confirmed for all the world what a cop-out he is.

He says Rove gave him permission to discuss their conversation. This can't be so, because Rove stands to lose his job, and he has been utterly unwilling to confirm his complicity in all this. He could not with any sincerity given Cooper the right to discuss their conversation when it was originally on deep background, and still, for all intents, remains on it.

Cooper's career is over. He just doesn't know it yet. And Pearlstine? Since he is the boss, he may last a while longer, but he shouldn't.

All honor goes to Miller. Disgrace to Cooper, Pearlstine, the columnist who published the leak, Robert Novak and his conspired with the Administration to hide his responsibility, and some disgrace to American papers who haven't stood up daily for Judy Miller.

Fox, I Must Agree With The Liberals, Is Not Fair

Written from Anchor River, Alaska--

As terror attacks intensified this week, with incidents in Britain, Egypt, Lebanon, and Iraq among the most noteworthy, I was continuing my protracted trip in Alaska, specifically in the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage.

This is a conservative state, and quite often I find hotel television carrying the Fox network, but not CNN and often not even all three of the traditional networks, NBC, ABC and CBS. The lone sizable newspaper, the Anchorage Times, also is conservative, but does run some convincing liberal columnists.

So, I was watching Fox quite a bit, and despite my own hawkish views on the war, known to all who read this blog, I have to acknowledge that I do not find Fox coverage "fair and balanced," as their motto claims.

Fox leans heavily toward the conservative Republican side, toward a continuously dire view of the world situation (which is hard not to have these days), against civil liberties, and against liberals and Democrats.

While, as in the tsunami coverage last Christmas, it is quick to jump on breaking news, its 24-hour coverage means that quite often interviews are recycled two or even three times. It would be better to interview more people, with diversity of view.

For discussion of public issues, such as civil liberties questions, Fox often relies on ideologues representing two sides, but the conservative ideologues often seem more reasonable in their presentations than the liberal ones, and the liberal ones are not treated quite fairly.

A typical example Friday involved a civil liberties representative, Sam Gross. Not only did he take the dubious position that nothing should be done to fight the war on terror that would impinge in any way on civil liberties, but even the moderator frequently jumped in against him, leading to a ganging up impression. At the end, the moderator said Gross' position was ridiculous. It occasionally struck me that way too, but I felt Fox should have picked a better, more articulate representative of the civil liberties position.

The only time Fox showed Howard Dean, the Democratic National Chairman, while I was watching was to show him making a rather extreme position. I do not like Dean much either, but occasionally have to acknowledge he is cogent.

One commentator Fox did show who I felt was quite balanced was Nina Easton of the Boston Globe, who once worked for the L.A. Times and is the ex-wife of Times political writer Ron Brownstein. I've always felt Easton was more intelligent and able than Brownstein, and her presentation further convinced me. They recycled her panel too.

It would be better if Fox showed more seasoned academics to present liberal views, and then treated them respectfully. They don't need to invite L.A. Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley to be showing the other side.

These are difficult times and the issues are bewilderingly complex. It would be better, honestly, if Fox were more middle of the road.

Friday, July 22, 2005

London Situation Calls For Crackdown On Muslim Fanatics

Written from Anchor River, Alaska --

The critical situation on the London transportation system is a wakeup call to all countries, including our own, with substantial Muslim minorities.

Let's be clear: Most Muslims who have moved to the West are loyal to the countries they've moved to and seem anxious to prove that loyalty.

However, a fanatical minority hold to precepts that are out of accord with democratic forms of government, especially in a willingness to use violence, the most extreme form of which is suicide bombings, to realize vile ends, and a willingness to pursue discrimination against women.

These people do not belong in the West. They need to be sent back to their countries of origin, and the time is not long in which to do it. Otherwise, the contagion of suicide bombings will spread throughout the world, and make life a misery in the West.

The present war forces us to reevaluate policies of tolerance. Tolerance is mandated when people are content to live peacefully within the Western systems. If they are not, then tolerance is not a working policy.

The preoccupation this summer with the War on Terror has become overriding. This is now the number one issue throughout America, Europe and Australia. Ordinary life is being disrupted by the turbulent few, and those few must be dealt with speedily.

No one, regardless of beliefs, has any "human rights" to go out and bomb innocent commuters riding the subways and buses. They must be struck down with the most rigorous means we have available to us.

Otherwise, the present critical situation will only grow worse, and the time will come when these evil people will obtain weapons of mass destruction they will use to kill millions.

A critical sorepoint is also Pakistan, a dictatorship which already has nuclear weapons. Back in 1947, Britain made a critical error when she bowed to the wishes of Jinnah, a Muslim fanatic, and agreed to partition India. It is not inconceivable that that error will have to be undone.

Soon after this blog was posted, word came of a new terrorist outrage against tourists in Egypt, another so-called "friend" of ours in the Middle East, which does little or nothing to protect tourists. There have been regular attacks murdering tourists there. This latest is in Sharm al Sheik, where reports list 49 killed and 200 wounded in blasts at luxury hotels and the market. The dead included members of at least four European nationalities, including Britain.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bad News About Tribune Cutbacks And David Shaw

Written from Seward, Alaska --

I must apologize to my readers about the number of typos in recent blogs. Here, the libraries frequently limit time on the Internet, and I don't have the required time to straighten out everything.

There is bad news today, first about the grave condition of David Shaw. At David's request, some of us had withheld news of his brain tumor, but now comes word that he is in a coma.

I have known David and respected his abilities for a long time. We all miss him, and pray for his recovery. He faced his illness with the greatest courage. All we can say at this time is that we hope for the best for him and his family.

The New York Times story on John Carroll's departure makes it plain that he left early in disgust at the policies of the mediocre journalism represented by the Tribune Co.

These, as I've remarked before, have sold out on their original promises made when they took over the Times and other Times-Mirror papers, perhaps as a result of ignoring provisions in Harry Chandler's that banned sale of the paper.

It has been apparent for a long time now that the Tribune was an unsuitable owner. It behooves all of us to work to find new owners for the Times and get rid of these Easterners, who would never have California interests at heart.

Please share any information with me that could help me seek out new owners, and perhaps take legal action that would invalidate Tribune control.

If Carroll did leave in a kind of protest, as seems likely, he has my admiration, despite past disagreements. However, it would be better if he were to take some responsibility for the sharp decline in Times circulation under Tribune control. He is in efror, in my view, when he makes public statements that the content of the paper has nothing to do with these declines.

Anyone who would name Michael Kinsley editor of the editorial pages, as Carroll did, bears some responsibility for the scores of thousands who have cancelled their subscriptions.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

John Carroll Departs. He Could Have Been Better

Written from Seward, Alaska --

So John Carroll is retiring Aug. 15, perhaps earlier than he had intended to just a few months ago. My own honest view is that he could have been a better editor, could have resisted the mediocre TRibune managers and costcutters more. He did resist, but too quietly. No loyalty is owed the squalid Tribune owners.

My worst feeling about Carroll is that he was very cool to the Jewish community, an important aspect of Los Angeles life. Not since Otis Chandler became publisher in 1961, or even before, with his mother, the late Dorothy Chandler, has this been the case. Jewish community leaders will be glad to see Carroll go.

In some respects, Carroll is to be complimented. The Times did win many Pulitzers under his aegis, and on an everyday basis, he made many sound decisions. But he would not call a terrorist a terrorist, and he hired Michael Kinsley, a part timer, and allowed him to continue to live in Seattle half the time. This was a serious mistake.

I notice in the announcement that Dean Baquet, the new editor, will have Kinsley reporting to the publisher, Jeffrey Johnson, rather than to him. This is a serious mistake, since control of the editorial page is the duty of any responsible editor. Johnson has not demonstrated any clear loyalty to Los Angeles, rather than to his greasy superiors in Chicago.

Still, we can all wish Baquet well. He's going to need great abilities to keep living with the Tribune Co.

It is a good thing that Baquet, a black man, has reached such a high post, a first for great American papers. So congratulations are due to him. He has many challenges ahead.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm Not Unwilling To View Freedom of the Press As An Absolute Right

Written from Seward, Alaska --

Every survey taken, it seems, shows that many Americans do not understand the Constitution and the accompanying Bill of Rights. There have been many surveys showing a major willingness, at one time or another, to give up vital freedoms.

Yet, with some exceptions, those freedoms have been kept. The Supreme Court has not always, however, been a bulwark for liberty. It declared Dred Scott, a Negro slave, was not a citizen, and it upheld racial segregation. It imprisoned the Japanese in World War II. Judges are human beings named by politicians, and all too many have been corrupt old farts in the worst, not the best sense of those words. The legal profession all too often attracts skunks, although I've known some fine attorneys. But the injection of dishonest lawyers into the process caused me years ago to suggest that as a prerequisite of qualifying for the bar, would-be attorneys should be required to serve five years first in the penatentiary.

Now the legal profession and sitting judges want to strike down freedom of the press. That can't be allowed. The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights says plainly that no law can be passed abridging freedom of the press.

Will everyone agree? No. But if they don't like it, let them try to amend the Constitution. The debate will show that freedom of the press is essential in any democracy. It is not, in the last analysis, the rights of reporters and editors that are at stake, but the rights of the American people.

We do have a system of laws in the U.S, no matter how imperfect. It's certainly better than in Germany, where they continue to release terrorists, as the German judiciary did just this week with a suspect in the Madrid bombings.

But now with Judy Miller in jail, even our system is faltering. Don't expect reporters to give up their rights, simply because they may, for the time being, seem inconvenient.

Monday, July 18, 2005

David Broder Shows His Conservative Bias, Joins Kinsley In Selling Out Press Freedoms and Judy Miller

Written from Seward, Alaska --

I've known David Broder of the Washington Post for a long time, certainly since he stuck the knife into Jimmy Carter toward the end of the 1976 Presidential campaign. He is a closet conservative who tries not to show it most of the time.

He's a good reporter. Nobody can call an election better than David Broder, as he showed in the California Recall campaign.

But when it comes to defending the First Amendment and American democracy, Broder has something lacking. Like Matt Cooper at Time magazine, who has now revealed two sources to whom he once gave a pledge of confidentiality, and Michael Kinsley, who is unprincipled by principle, Broder is out there in a column I read in the Anchorage Times picking on Judy Miller.

She is not the perfect reporter, he says. He cites her mistakes in once using Iraqi sources.

Everyone makes mistakes. But right now, Judy Miller is in jail defending press freedoms and I would wager David Broder had a delicious dinner tonight.

For shame! I'm afraid David Broder and Matt Cooper would not have been with George Washington when he crossed the Delaware, but home writing that the American colonists were making mistakes in the fight against the British.

Broder does have the grace to suggest that maybe George Bush is not keeping his word when he said he would get rid of aides involved in leaks. But Karl Rove is not the firwt Washington official to leak to the press.

The Administration, however, has hired people to pretend to be reporters and has put out fake press releases. I pay tribute to the President for fighting the terrorists, but in defending freedom of the press he is delinquent.

Lord Nelson, at Trafalgar, told sailors under his command: "England Expects Every Man Will Do His Duty." The duty of American journalists today is to defend Judy Miller and assail Judge Thomas Hogan, who is violating his oath to defend the U.S. Constitution.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Dennis McDougal Book, Privileged Son, On Rise And Fall of Chander Dynasty, Is Good

Written from Whittier, Alaska --

During my Alaska trip, I've been reading, and have just finished the book, Privileged Son, on the rise and fall of the Chandler dynasty at the L.A. Times, by Dennis McDougal, a former Times writer in the Business section.

The book was published by Perseus Publishing in 2001, and what I had heard of it had not been too complimentary. It was said that McDougal made some mistakes.

But I think this is a good book, quite revealing about what what went wrong at the Times, and landed the paper in mediocre Chicago Tribune hands.

The only really noticeable mistake McDougal makes is to say it is a time disadvantage for the L.A. Times to publish in the Pacific Time Zone, that the Eastern newspapers have more time to fashion their stories. This is not true. L.A. Times writers have three hours more to fashion their stories due to L.A. at any moment being three hours earlier than New York. This is an advantage for Times reporters in Washington and even more of an advantage in Europe, which is nine hours ahead of L.A. time. I used to take advantage of this whenever i was on Olympic or political stories in the East or in Switzerland.

The key thing that McDougal explores is what happened to Otis Chandler. Was he pushed or did he fall from running the Times and Times-Mirror?

The author has had extensive interviews with Chandler and I think it's fair to say he was cooperative, as were other members of the Chandler family.

It's been established, I think, for some time that other members of the Chandler family, particularly his sister, her husband during the key period, Dan Frost, some of his cousins, etc., were more right wing than Otis. His powerful and outspoken mother, Buffy Chandler, was able to keep them in line for a time, but when she grew old and retired to her home and that control lapsed, the other members of the family gradually asserted themselves. This was not good, because they knew nothing about running a newspaper.

Could Otis have fought to prevent this? Possibly, but about the time the family began to assert itself, hiring outside and often less competent managers, Otis fell in love with another women, Bettina Whittaker, who didn't really have great interest in the paper. He left his first wife and married her. And, in the meantime, Otis himself was distracted by hunting, by other outside hobbies such as his automobiles, and finally by some ennui with his role at the paper. Also, Otis did not have great confidence that any of his three sons pr twp daigjters could effectively fill in for him as Times publisher, and his oldest son, Norman, who in my view might have grown into the role, had a brain tumor that finally killed him at 49. The publishers who filled in for Otis simply were not of all that high a caliber.

McDougal has done a good job here outlining all this, and, while he is not a great admirer of Otis the human being, he's not unfair to him either.

There is some question whether the sale of the Times to the Tribune was legal, since there had been a provision in Harry Chandler's will that the paper could not be sold while the last member of Otis's generation was still alive. But at the time of the sale in 2000, no one rose to object. No member of the family who had preferred stock and might have brought a legal suit against the sale was objectionable to it. They wanted the money from the sale. So the sale came to pass without challenge, when it might have been challenged, although McDougal does not get into this.

McDougal is very good at what a duntz Mark Willes was when he became publisher and CEO of Times Mirror.

McDougal says that for all intents and purposes Otis was forced out by Bob Erburu in 1985. Erburu as CEO turned out, most would agree, to be a disaster. He simply was not a good manager and Times-Mirror, which had grown into a national power, gradually fell into greater and greater trouble. Bit Erburu, who I should mention has always been very pleasant to me personally, was not half as bad as Willes turned out to me. Erburu meant well but made some mistakes.

I believe that in the long run, the Times should be sold back to local interests. I'm going to look into this when I return from a protracted Alaska trip in September, although it goes without saying I don't have the wherewithal to hope to buy the Times myself, even assuming the Tribune would be willing to sell.

In the meantime, I recommend the McDougal book.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Time Magazine, Embarrassed, Writes Comparatively Little on Judy Miller Case

Written from Homer, Alaska --

Time magazine was at its usual level of high competence on the war, specifically in relation to the London bombings, this week. It does as good a job as anyone in American journalism on the war issues.

But it had comparatively little to say on its own cop out to the government, and its failure to defend the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in the Judy Miller jailing.

That is not a surprise, since editor-in-chief Pearlstein will always be remembered for his cowardice in this sordid affair. His obituary will have this high. He might as well resign now, because he has achieved everything he will in journalism.

I'm indebted to Ed Guthman for reminding me that the First Amendment was specifically written with the point of view that the press would report things the government did not want reported. Time, no matter how good it is on the War on Terror, has given in on that principle to its everlasting shame, and its Washington reporter, Matt Cooper, who did not have the courage to join Judy Miller in jail, is just as bad as his boss.

Shame on Pearlstine and Cooper.

Time has long had a habit of consorting too closely to the government in the interest of maintaining its official sources. I remember when I was with the organization during Vietnam war days, their sellout to Lyndon Johnson and his gross errors in fighting that war was palpable.

Let's let Judy Miller stay in our thoughts. She is fighting for every reporter and editor in the land, and we need to support her in every way possible.

And what about the fascist columnist Bob Novak? Why isn't he in jail too? Why he been spared prosecution in this Bush Administration witch hunt.

And to what end? Karl Rove may have been the leaker, but George W. Bush is already walking on his pledge to fire those responsible for the leak.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Halibut, Salmon Fishiing Both Tremendous At Dutch Harbor In Aleutians

Written from Dutch Harbor In The Aleutians, Alaska --

A reader of my blog asks if my 4-day cruise on the Alaska Ferry from Homer to Dutch Harbor and then six-day stay in Dutch Harbor have altered my views on the issues I write about in my blog. But I don't think so. I believe we live in dangerous times and the war must be vigorously pursued. And I think the Los Angeles Times should be under local ownership. Those views are likely to remain constant.

I spent two days here out fishing for halibut with an excellent skipper, Dave McGown. I caught three 40-pound halibut and one 30-pounder, and am shipping 67 pounds of fileted halibut home to my daughter and to close friends. This means a lot to me, and I think the recipients are happy as well. Now, I'm just hoping the fish, now in deep freeze, will withstand the trip well by Fed Ex.

A woman in my fishing party the second day caught a 121-pound halibut, and a man caught a 109-pounder. I had a huge fish on the line once, but it broke the line before it could be landed. The fish are cruising along the bottom around 100 to 200 feet deep when they are hooked, usually using octopus or yellow mackeral as bait. There is a two-fish limit daily among halibut kept and a three day Alaska license costs $20. It can take a half-hour fight to land a fish.

I've done some fishing in my life, not a lot. In this case, I have very fond feelings for those I'm sending the fish to, and it's an emotional feeling for me to be able to do it..

A day's halibut fishing here costs $185. Also, the locals are out catching salmon from the shore right in the town. On a village tour last night, we saw a little girl of about 10 land two large salmon.

Some poople come out here to the Aleutians for fishing, but the air fares are high, about $800 round trip from Anchorage. I came one way with the very comfortable Alaska ferry, the Tustemena, which is so well booked on its once-a-month Aleutian run, that I began trying to book a cabin on this boat a year in advance. The ferry stopped in Kodiak for a day and several tiny fishing villages. Its cruise by volcanic cones was worth the single fare in and of itself, including cabin, of $464.

I met many nice people enroute, including some who are inveterate Alaskan travelers, and two New Yorkers on an exotic trip which will also take them to Nome. This young couple went fishing with me the first day here.

The weather here in the summer is cloudy and cool. It remains light until past 11 p.m. Many days have light rain. The U.S. military fought quite a battle with the Japanese for the Aleutians during World War II, and Dutch Harbor, which was bombed, still has many pill boxes evident around town and even a few signs warning of buried explosives. The native population was evacuated to southeast Alaska after the first Japanese attack and many never returned to this area, but it is fairly well populated today. About 4,000 persons, mostly working in the commercial fishing industry, live in the adjacent communities of Dutch Harbor and Unalaska today. The whole community is beyond the tree line due to frigid wintgeers and high winds..

A manager at the Grand Aleutian Hotel, Cheryl Johnson, booked all of my activities here and has been tremendously helpful. She's taking me and a Swedish visitor on a tour of one of the seafood processing plants this afternoon. Dutch Habor is currently the largest sea food processor in the U.S.

My tour of the fake crab producing facility convinced me never to eat fake crab again, by the way.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Steps Taken To Protect Confidentiality Of Sources Are Essential

Written from Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian, Alaska --

Los Angeles Times Editor John Carroll is to be commended for taking steps to safeguard confidential sources, by urging prudence in maintaining information and a new code of ethics at the Los Angeles Times.

Similar steps are merited at all newspapers in the wake of the abdication by the courts of their solumn obligation to defend the First Amendment to the U.S. Consitution that no law will abridge freedom of the press.

Matt Weionstock, a frequent reader of this blog, asks why reporters shouyld have more rights than others.

The answer is that the founding fathers of our sacred democracy knew that freedom of the press was essential to safeguard it. They placed freedom of the press as the very first amendment to the Bill of Rights. They knew that in this respect special privileges for those who express their opinions was vital.

Now that the heroic journalist Judith Miller of the New York Times has sacrificed her liberties for all of us, the rest of the press must act, as it is doing, to defy autocratic, undemocratic judges like Thomas Hogan. He may not care for American freedoms. We do, and can be proud of our resistance.

Meanwhile, massive petitions should be sent to the U .S. Supreme Court to free Miller and begin once again to observe their oaths to defend the Constitution.

British Successes In Identifying Terrorist Bombers Should Lead To Deportations

Writen from Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians, Alaska==

Human rights as I understand them gives no one the right to immigrate to a country and then commit violent acts in that country.

That is why the British successes in recent days at identifying prime suspects of the subway and bus bombings of last week are so important.

The next step is to get rid of all those who have moved to Great Britain and turned out disloyal to it. Those people should be deported speedily to their countries of origin.

Also, I believe Pakistan independence should be cancelled by the United Nations Security Council and that country placed under a UN Trusteeship until such time as training camps for terrorists be closed in that country.

Major action is now required to terminate terrorist rights, or the time cannot be far away when the U.S., Britain and other Western countries are attacked by atomic, biolgical and/or chemical weapons. To avoid this catastrophe, religious extremists should be removed from Europe and the Americas and truateeships created in the Third World to end terrorist training.

Radical action? Yes, of course, it is, but the emergency is growing. Millions of lives are in jeopardy unless we act to insure our safety and that of our allies. The New York Times estimated Sunday that between 10,000 and 15,000 sympathizers of al Queda presently live in Britain and about 600 have been trained to be terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan

They should be removed, as the British deported thousands of miscreants in the 19th Century to Australia, and never permitted to return. In this matter, there must be no
We cannot expect such proposals to be accepted right away, but they must be dput on mercy.

I do not fool myself any of this will be easy. But the proposals must be made now to condition pbblic opinion for the important steps to be taken later.

Those who would commit murder in the subways and on the buses have lost their rights. Aside from life somewhere else, we owe them nothing

Monday, July 11, 2005

Press Tributes To Resilient British Don't Blame Them For Attacks AGainst Them

Written from Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians, Alaska --

In the many tributes in both the press and on television to the resiliant people in London who have not allowed themselves to have been cowed by the murderous bombings last Thursday on their public transport system, there is much to admire..

What is thankfully missing is all the speculation that marked liberal circles in the U.S. after 9/11 that somehow America was guilty for the attacks against American targets.

No one yet seems to have blamed Britons for getting attacked, except for a few suggestions the government there was not zealous enough in preventing the terrorism..

It is frequently the case that the victims are blamed for the assaults against them. All kinds of excuses are made by wouldbe appeasers who sought to explain the aggresive conduct of the attackers. Such was the case with Hitler and Mussolini. Years went by while their position was explained and emphathized with.

In fact, neither us nor the British have done anything that condoned the attacks on innocent people working in the Twin Towers or riding the subways or buses.

And no one should expect us to forbear defending ourselves. These Middle Eastern crowds who welcomed the latest attacks should, indeed, be punished stringently for their criminal attitudes until they give them up and seek once again to live in a peaceful and civilized manner.

Kinsley Disgraces L.A. Times By Failing To Take A Stand for Judith Miller

Written from Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians, Alaska --

The L.A. Times editorial pages have steadily gone downhill under the incompetent and unprincipled direction of the always-wobbly Michael Kinsley, an absentee overlord..

But never has Kinsley disgraced himself and the paper more profoundly than by his unwillingness to take a firm stand in the political jailing by a corrupt legal system of New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

Indeed, the federal prosecutor in this sordid episode has now cited the weak position of the L.A. Times in his argument defending the unfair persecution of both Miller and the free press. He says the L.A. Times position vindicates his own.

The L.A. Times has now descended to the level where it is cited by the enemies of the press in a case of political emprisonment.

I've on occasion been willing to give Kinsley the benefit of the doubt in terms of experimenting for changes on the editorial page, questionable as many are..

But his failure to defend the important principle of the use of confidential sources and refusal to identifify them to government prosecutors goes beyond the line. Kinsley can no longer claim to be a legitimate representative of the press, because he has shown himself willing to give up press freedoms.

In the campa9ign for the liberation of Miller, we can no more abide by this new Benedict Arnold, a man who simply doesn't believe in safeguarding press freedoms or much else in his waffling and mistatements of cardinal facts.

Get rid of the bum! Send him back to Seattle, where he doesn't really belong either.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Anchorage Daily News Stands For Something

Written from Dutch Harbor, the Aleutians, Alaska--

I've been impressed several times since arriving in Alaska with the Anchorage Daily News.

Last Tusday, the Daily News had a front page article on the danger to the polar bear if global warming should continue. In spare, but detailed and often eloquent language, the article not only outlined what will happen to the animals if the Arctic ice should melt, but it detailed all the evasions of Alaska lawmakers who have failed to stand up to the Bush Administration's failures to do anything about global warming.

This article named names and hopefully it will do some good the next time Alaska's Republican members of the Congress have to vote on this issue.

On Friday, Anchroage Daily News coverage of the London bombings was monumental. It carried story after sotry, page after page. Unlike its Canadian neighbors in the press who say so little about world affairs that they leave their readers in the dark, the Anchroage paper is fulfilling its resposibilities to inform the people in full.

Best, however, was the column by Publisher Bill J. Allenl, who unlike the publishers of the Nerw York Times and Los Angeles Times doesn't simply kep silent at critical times.

Under the column entitled, "Islamic War," Allen writes, in part:

"Maybe, it once again will be clear to even the worst of the Bush haters in Washington and elsewhere in the world that we are, indeed, at war.

"The enemy is known. Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz), spelled it out in the hours after four terrorist bombs in London yesterday killed at least 37 and injured hundreds.

"They are extremist Islamic fundamentalists."

"And their purpose, he said, should be evident.

"Thye want to destroy everything we and our friends across the sea believe in."

"You haven't heard many such comments of late, especially from the Democratic left in Congress and in the never never oand of Hollywood where film stars and directors take every opportunity to deman and assail President George W. Bush, and who blame the U.S. for fostering terrorism.

McCain, among many others, sees things differently.

"If we fail to take the fight to the enemy,. the enemy wioll take the fight to us."

And that's what happened in London during the morning rush hour...

Too bad, Allen doesn't live in Los Angeles and serve as publisher of the Los Angeles Times.

Judith Miller Is A Political Prisoner Of Disloyal Judiciary

Written from Dutch Harbor, Aleutians, Alaska--

As the distinguished columnist Richard Reeves points out, New York Times reporter Judith Miller is a pol;tical prisoner, to be in jail more for her thoughts than for anything she has actually reported.

The federal judge Thomas Hogan is disgracefully currying favor with the Bush Administration by sentencing Miller to jail in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Consitution and other judges reaching up to the U.S. Supreme Court have gone along thus far with the rravesty.

At a time when the country is at war, reporters such as Miller are needed more than ever for the expression of free opinions.

But in a case which reminds one of a kangaroo court, the squalid Judge Hogan has cast aside the values of freedom and the virtues of the Constitution to take Miller away from society and try to scare other reporters into cowtowing to the courts the way the cowardly Time correspondent, Matt Cooper has now done.

And why if there is any case at all, has the author of the offending column, the wacky Robert Novak, not been summoned to name who his confidebntial sources were in naming a CIA agent, an act contrary to federal law?

Hogan's ambition, his lack of principle, his craven disregard of the Constitution, stamps his as one of the lowest representative in the speckled history of the federal judiciary, the same bunch who once held a Negro slave was not a citizen and who kept Negroes improperly segregated for more than half a century.

But the issue is far bigger than Hogan/s foolish acts. We see more and more that the legal profession is a menace to our free society. We all know lawyers and judges we respect, but all too often, whether it's the tax dodge, the dishonest maneuver or the judge retiring into a well paid private practice, the country is confronted with a disreputable profession which needs reining in by Congress and the rest of us.

The first Amendment is at the heart of American democracy. It must be defended, even if the breach between the press and the legal profession becomes much deeper.

Richard Reeves writes, "Judy Miller is just the best known of the ordinary citizens being sent to jail for malicious thinking about our emerging police state.

Judge Hogan wants promotion to a higher court. Instead, he appears to on the road to becoming another Molotov, another Beris, and nother of those cursed individuals who stand against freedom

London Bombings Raise Question Of Expulsion Of Extremist Muslim Immigrants

Written From Dutch Harbor, the Aleutians, Alaska--

A question of the highest importance in the London bombings iw whether the horrific act were committed by people who flew in from abroad, or whether they were living in the British Isles.
If these were Muslim extremists living in Britain itself, it raises the issue of whe ther all people who cannot bring themtolves to assimilate in Britain but profess of radical Islamic thought and action ought not to be expelled from the British isles.

There is, at least for the time being, less of such a question in the United States. Most immigrants here are assimilating or are moderates loyal to the country. Thius is undoubtedly the main reason why there have beere not been further acts of terror here since 9/11.

But in Britain and on the European continent, there appears to be a vast unassimilated group of Muslim immigrants,

Those people should be removed from Europe for the safety of the European states and the preservation of democracy.

Already, there have been many arrests in both Western Eyurioe and Britain of radical Islamics. But, as the case in the U.S., the courts are often staffed by liberal and/or corrupt djuges who are poor defenders of constiitutional order and allow many of the accused to either go free or serve only very light sentences.

There need to be rethinking of this entire situation. A distinction meed be made between good Muslim citizens, whose rights should be protected, and those who are not saisfactory residents of the countries to which they have moved.

Those people need fast deportation, so we do not have a whole series o bombings in London and many other cities.

The time grows late. We must act to rid the Western democracies of saboteurs and murderers,

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Jailing of Judith Miller By UnAmerican Federal Judge Should Be Strongly Resisted By The Entire Press

Written from Kodiak, Alaska --

The jailing of New York Times reporter Judith Miller by a federal district judge who does not believe in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and thus should be regarded as in violation of his oath of office, is an act of stupidity and cowardice that deserves the resistance of the entire U.S. press.

Thomas Hogan, the judge, should be ousted from the judiciary forthwith, and there ought now to be an uproar the federal judiciary as a whole will never forget. For they are ready to do in the principles upon which the country was founded.

Years ago, at Harvard Law School, it struck me that the justice system was utterly corrupt and I left the school after four months. I have never regretted the decision, because there is rarely such a thing as an honest lawyer. It is a terrible profession in every respect. And as the years have gone by, fortified in their squalid dishonesty, lawyers and judges have behaved ever more dishonestly.

Dishonor to Matt Cooper and Time magazine, who gave in. What a disgrace. They are not representative of the press.

What should happen now? The press ought to react with a barrage of articles about crooked judges. There are many of them, and there are few honest ones.

And once again, why has the Bush Administration gone after Time and the New York Times, and not Robert Novak, the fascist columnist?

We know the Thomas Hogans of the world. They are the enemies of democracy and free government, just as surely as the terrorists in the Middle East.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Groene Case Points Up The Weakness Of The Courts In Dealing With Sexual Predators

Written from Anchorage, Alaska --

The cases of Shasta Groene, 8, and her brother, Dylan, 9, of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, point up both the growing obsession of the 24-hour cable networks with sexual predator matters, and the weaknesses of the American and Canadian justice systems in dealing with known offenders.

The courts can and increasingly do imprison U.S. journalists for trying to keep the identities of their confidential sources secret, but they are much too quick to order the release from prison of such predators as Joseph Edward Duncan, III, 42, of Fargo, N.D., or Karla Homulka, 35, in Canada.

Six weeks after the murder of her mother and two others, Shasta Groene was found in the company of Duncan, a known predator who has served ten years in prison for other sex offenses, and even has established a blog telling the world how an alternate personality forces him to do bad things. Law enforcement authorities now are examining remains found in Montana of what may be Dylan Groene.

Meanwhile, in Montreal, Homulka, an accomplice in the murders of her 15-year-old sister and two others girls, at the hands of a rapist, has been released after 12 years in prison. Homulka held a drug-soaked cloth over the face of her sister while the rapist did the deed that killed her, and continues to avoid an apology in any of the three rape-murders she helped commit.

Excuse me folks, but I believe neither Duncan nor Homulka should ever have been released, and now that he is captured in the Groene crimes, Duncan should be questioned rigorously and compellingly, perhaps even tortured, until he tells the whole truth about them and then should, as speedily as possible, be executed.

Why is society so indulgent toward such people? What rights should they have to rape young women, murder people or kidnap their children? And why should they ever be released to endanger others?

It is "do-gooding" civil liberties groups that all too often argue against quick, decisive action against the obviously guilty. These organizations have something to do with the wave of brutal murders society is confronted with. And the cable networks give prurient over-publicity to the crimes that may encourage others.

They allow monsters like Homulka to go on an interview show in Canada, as she did this morning, and refuse to so much as apologize for the crimes she helped commit. She had the gall to say this morning, "I am a very private person and I don't like to talk about my feelings." Why wasn't the interview halted at that point?

Let her rot in jail. And the parole authorities and judges who let her out should rot there with her.

The New York Times has occasionally gone back to judges who gave limited sentences to people who later committed horrible crimes, apparently like Duncan, and asked them whether they had second thoughts. These judges seldom have wished to talk about their sentences, but it is abundently clear they are unfit to serve on the bench.

We live at a time when a man implicated in the murders of Kurds and the imprisonment of American diplomatic hostages can be elected President of Iran in an election fixed by religious extremists.

We also live in a time when the Duncans and Homulkas can walk around free until they choose to give in once again to their "alternate personalities," and go out and rape and murder. We have only ourselves to blame for supporting cravenly weak legal and political systems that allow them to do it.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Alaska Highway Not For The Timid, But It's Great

Written From Glennallen, Alaska --

I'll be in Anchorage today, more than 3,800 miles after leaving Los Angeles on June 21.

I certainly recommend the Alaska Highway, but it's not for those with no liking for dirt roads. There are at least 100 miles of such roads, whereever they are doing construction, and with the permafrost and the Denali earthquake it's necessary to keep building every summer. The car bounces around a lot, but otherwise the dirt isn't that bad.

Between, Whitehorse and the Alaska border, beware though. There were long, slow, rough stretches and one case of a truck throwing up small pebbles that struck the car, without any appreciable damage.

But it's a beautiful highway for the most part. I was lucky to meet a trucker toward the start in the Pink mountain sector, and he recommended some great places to eat. The best of these was the Iron Creek Lodge about 40 miles before Watson Lake, a young couple, great cooking and wonderful hospitality.

There were lots of caribou (corrected spelling), and a Buffalo grazing beside the road, but I missed seeing any bears or moose.

There's considerable traffic on the highway, built first by the U.S. Army in 1942 and improved and shortened since, but it's mostly truckers and RVs, not as many private cars, although I drove my Camry with no problems. I stopped for a fast lube and oil change in Whitehorse, the largest city on the trip, and a nice town of 22,000. Fort Nelson and Watson Lake were also nice, Dawson Creek at the beginning of the highway was rather scruffy. The weather was some rain and cool throughout. For 886 miles between Dawson Creek and Whitehorse, there's only one town as populous as 5,000 and that's Fort Nelson.

The best meal was in the Klondike Barbeque Rib and Salmon Restaurant in Whitehorse. I had a fabulous stroganoff with wild game. Also, if you go, be sure to take the two-hour Yukon River Cruise in Whitehorse. It cost $25 and I thought that was a bargain.

Drive about 300 miles a day. It's not a fast road, but the wilderness is great. This fulfills a life long ambition, which had to wait for retirement.

I used the Milepost guide, which could use some updating and leaves out such important landmarks as the Continental Divide. I had no reservations, but no trouble finding hotels, paying from $79 to $125 in Canadian money, which is $1.20 for each dollar American. The hotel keepers said they are as busy in the winter as the summer.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Time Magazine Cops Out In Battle With The Courts

Written from Beaver Creek, the Yukon, on the Alaska Highway --

It is a great disappointment to see Time Magazine give up its fight over use of anonymous sources, by turning over reporter Matt Cooper's notes to the corrupt American justice system.

Just a few weeks ago, Time Inc. Editor-in-chief Norman Pearlstine had written an eloquent essay in Time defending the right of reporters under the First Amendment and various shield laws to defend the confidentiality of their sources.

Now, Pearlstine says, in response to the cowardly U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to so much as take up the case, that turning over the notes "is an appropriate thing to do, having fought very hard" to defend its position.

"It wasn't about the size of the fine, even about Matt going to jail," says Pearlstine, as quoted in USA Today. Cooper, he says, "may still end up" going to jail. "But I could not make the distinction that said: We are somehow above the law. Now, if that's caving. so be it."

It is caving, Mr. Pearlstine, and you should have resigned your position rather than be party to such a sell out.

The New York Times publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., expressed disappointment in Time's surrender and indicated the New York Times would not be prepared to take a similar position in defending its reporter, also under threat of a jail term, Judith Miller.

This is a case about the use of anonymous sources by columnist Robert Novak in identifying a CIA agent, Valerie Plame in a case related to the U.S. attack against Saddam Hussein. But very strangely the Justice Department has not gone after Novak at all, when it is he who printed the information. Maybe, that's because Novak is normally a defender of the Bush Administration.

I once had a professor at Dartmouth, the late Arthur Wilson, who had worked for the OSS during World War II. He used to tell his students, in the matter of the courts and the law, "Just remember, gentlemen, everything the Nazies did was strictly legal according to German law."

In other words, the law is what the usually corrupt legal profession says it is, and, like as not, it is a travesty.

The proper course for Mr. Pearlstine would have been to continue to resist, letting his organization be driven to the poorhouse through fines and all his reporters to jail, rather than give in, until the Supreme Court gave in and agreed to enforce the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, reforms are needed. So-called "justices," should not serve life terms. Perhaps, they should be elected. What is becoming evident, year by year, is that it is indeed a corrupt institution, disloyal to the Constitution.

It's funny how these high mucky mucks in journalism like Mr. Pearlstine, so often haven't got the courage of their convictions. Name any reporter at Times magazine, and the likelihood is, he or she would have had more guts to do the right thing.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Toronto Globe And Mail Shows Muslim Aliens Must Be Watched In Canada Too

Written from Whitehorse in the Yukon --

A column this week by John Ibbitson in the Toronto Globe And Mail here in Canada shows that the U.S. is not the only country which has to be wary of Muslim extremists and their endless duplicity.

Ibbitson tells the story of two Syrian women who successfully sought entry visas into Canada so that they could have children here who would have Canadian citizenship and be able to take advantage of the protections of Canadian laws to give them eventually more license to lead the lives they wanted.

Yet these women planned to return to Syria and live under the evil regime of Bashir al-Assad as soon as their babies were born and the babies, of course, would go with them..

Ibbitson writes, "The two wsomen, it turns out, are the daughter and daughter-in-law of a notorious Syrian general," and, he says, this is a common practice of the Syrian elite.

"Our universities are cheaper and better, and, besides, one never knows what will happen in the murky world of Syrian politics," he observes.

"Some observers wonder whether the birth criterion as a qualification for Canadian citizenship should be revised. Perhaps only those born to permanent residents should be granted citizenship."

And, Ibbitson questions, should the Canadian representative who granted the two women visas be disciplined for making a mistake, and should Canada revise its laws to meet such circumstances?

I read this with great interest, because it seems to me Western countries, with their frequent good will, are being taken constant advantage of in immigration matters.

What neither Canada nor the U.S. needs are more questionable Muslim citizens. We have to wake up and smell the bad odor of a religion that frequently takes advantage of the non-Muslim world, and whose members frequently think it is just fine to lie to "infidels."

Since 9-11, it's a different world. We have to recognize it.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Nancy Grace IS Truly Awful on CNN

Written from Whitehorse, The Yukon ----

CNN continues to go downhill, scrambling to overcome the Fox lead by playing to the very lowest common denominator.

I find that when CNN is offered here in Canada, in the evening there's very little news. They've ruined Aaron Brown by excessively featurizing. Often, you have to wait until Darren Kagan on the morning news before getting many headlines even.

But what is truly terrible is the rise of this woman, Nancy Grace. She filled in for the regular interviewer on Wednesday night, and it was all schlock, pointless interviews from Aruba, plus other tearjerkers. This woman may well suffer from an emotional sickness.

This is the woman who predicted Michael Jackson would be convicted. You'd think right then they would have gotten rid of her. She has no taste and no feel for the news. She is sweet to a point of obnoxiousness.

And CNN now has very little foreign news, or WAshington news at all. Thank goodness, when I arrivded in Whitehorse tonight, they had NBC rather than CNN and I watched Brian Williams on the Nightly News with Justice
O'Connor's retirement the lead. Williams is a sight for sore eyes, compared to the CNN nightly anchors.

Maybe, CNN should fall on its sword and quit the way they are going.

One thing, there has not been a Canadian station yet, and I've been here eight days which has even carried Fox. John Carroll, the editor of the L.A. Times, would be delighted at how Fox is anathema in Canada.