In Their Dreams
December 7, 2001
comments powered by Disqus
A front-page article in today's New York Times reports, "Last month, Mullah Omar had reportedly agreed to surrender Kandahar to Mullah Naqib. But he reversed his decision a couple of days later, apparently after a prophetic dream instructed him to keep fighting." The Times doesn't provide any more details about Mullah Omar's "prophetic dream." It's hard to know how the newspaper knows it "apparently" occurred. Is the Times using its legendary mind-reading ability to monitor Mullah Omar's dreams? Even if the mullah did have a dream that instructed him to keep fighting, and even if the Times somehow knows about this dream, how can the Times be so sure the dream was "prophetic"?
Thoughtless: A front-page article in today's New York Times reports on Attorney General John Ashcroft's testimony before a Senate committee. "The Democratic critics on the committee were careful in their questioning and most laced their remarks with some support for the administration, even for the proposal thought to be the most controversial, the establishment of military tribunals to try terrorists," the Times reports. "Thought" to be the most controversial by whom? By the Times news department? Or by the Democratic critics? The passive construction gives Times readers no idea and is thought to be a way of avoiding responsibility for injecting opinions into news articles.
Toe Truck: A news article in today's New York Times about a congressional vote on trade says, "With the time allotted for voting expired and Democrats shouting across the aisle to bring down the gavel, Mr. Hastert and other Republican leaders repeatedly circled Adam Putnam of Florida, urging the 27-year-old freshman to tow the party line." Here's the relevant entry in the New York Times's own stylebook: "toe the line, toe the mark (not 'tow'). The allusion is to the starting position in a footrace."
Oldest Orthodox Congregation: An article in the metro section of today's New York Times reports, "A fire yesterday ravaged a synagogue on the Lower East Side that houses the city's oldest Orthodox congregation." That is inaccurate. The congregation the Times article refers to, Beth Hamedrash Hagodol, is not "the city's oldest Orthodox congregation." That distinction belongs to Congregation Shearith Israel, whose Web site identifies it as a "member and founder of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America." Shearith Israel was founded in 1654. Beth Hamedrash Hagodol has been in its building since 1885, the Times article reports, while Shearith Israel has been in its current building since 1897. But the Times article identifies the congregation as the oldest, not the building. Presumably, too, the reference is to the age of the organization, not the ages of the individual members.
Encouraging? An editorial in today's New York Times begins, "Give Yasir Arafat credit for some encouraging first steps against Hamas, the group that claimed responsibility for last weekend's deadly terrorist bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa. Placing Hamas's spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, under house arrest sent a clear message to Hamas supporters, who have responded with angry protests." The Times editorialists ought to check out their own newspaper's news article today, which reports that the "house arrest" consisted of Palestinian "police" posted two blocks away from the sheik's home. The "police" had told the sheik "that they were trying to protect him," the Times news article reports. The Times news article also reports that Sheik Yassin was receiving a "steady parade of visitors," in apparent violation of the terms of his "house arrest." This is a "clear message"?
Reckonings: Paul Krugman's op-ed page column, which Smartertimes.com can no longer refer to as the Reckonings column because the New York Times has shorn the column of its label, today asserts, "Since the administration's phony budget math ('fuzzy' just doesn't cut it at this point) gets phonier the further you go into the future, this means that we have effectively returned to a state of permanent deficit. . . . Administration officials insist that the economic slowdown and the war on terror, not the tax cut, are responsible for the red ink. But this is flatly untrue: antiterror spending is a minor factor, and the persistence of projected deficits into the indefinite future tells us that it's not caused by the recession either. Anyway, they're missing the point. Opponents of the administration's plan always warned that it was foolish to lock in a giant tax cut on the basis of hypothetical surplus projections. They urged, to no avail, that we wait to see the actual budget results." The double standard here is glaring. Mr. Krugman criticizes the Bush administration for backing a tax cut "on the basis of hypothetical surplus projections." But Mr. Krugman himself complains about "the persistence of projected deficits into the indefinite future." How is it that the surpluses are merely hypothetical and not to be relied upon instead of the "actual budget results," but the deficits -- which are just as hypothetical as the surpluses -- are worth getting in a lather over? Mr. Krugman should either rely on the budget projections or not rely upon them. Or if there is a reason to criticize the basis of the projections, he should do so. But to rely on the projections when they show a deficit and ignore them when they show a surplus is a bit of fast footwork that suggests that what Mr. Krugman is really up to has little to do with the budget projections and a lot to do with opposing tax cuts.
Note: Smartertimes.com is operating today off the New York Times online edition.
News Article: Original, non-Times-related news article: Solzhenitsyn Son in Spotlight on Greenpoint Power Plant, Puzzling Brooklyn Poles.
By BENJAMIN SMITH
Now, the locals -- many of whom revere Stephen Solzhenitsyn's father, Nobel-prize winning Soviet dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, for his anti-Communism -- are divided on what to make of his son's unexpected appearance at forums like the one held last Thursday at the Polish National Home, where he joined TransGas executives in pushing the virtues of the electric power plant to a hostile crowd. Some in the community appear to take the Solzhenitsyn name as a reason to temper their opposition to the project. Others say he has somehow betrayed his father's principles.
"Didn't his father teach him anything about doing the right thing for the people?" the Polish-born co-chairman of Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning, Richard Mazur, asked.
Some resentment of Mr. Solzhenitsyn's role, residents say, was sparked by a profile that ran October 10 in the Polish-language daily newspaper Nowy Dziennik. "Engineer Solzhenitsyn Reassures: The Greenpoint power station is not that awful," the headline read.
The 28-year old Mr. Solzhenitsyn has sometimes been involved in his father's work. He has translated essays, and he served as interpreter when his father, now 82, returned to Russia for the first time in 1994.
But the consultant himself appears to have made no effort to trade on his family name. Born in Russia, he came to the United States after his father was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974 for describing the horrors of Soviet prison camps in "Gulag Archipelago." The younger Mr. Solzhenitsyn grew up in Cavendish, Vermont, attended Harvard and MIT, and now works for the consulting firm TRC.
"I wouldn't want them to think that this proposal is okay because of who my father is," Mr. Solzhenitsyn told Smartertimes.com of the Greenpoint project. "I want them to think this proposal is okay on the merits."
According to documents filed with the New York State Department of Public Service, which must approve power plants, the Trangas project would stand on the edge of Polish Greenpoint, occupying the site of the Bayside Fuel Oil Depot on the waterfront on North 12th Street. The natural-gas-burning plant would meet more than 10% of New York City's demand for electricity during peak periods, according to the documents.
The Greenpoint-Williamsburg Association for Parks and Planning, a coalition including Polish groups and other neighborhood organizations, says its neighborhood is the wrong place for a power plant. Manufacturing along the river has been declining for half a century, and the neighborhood's real estate values are rising as gentrification spreads north from Williamsburg into an area whose main languages include Spanish and Yiddish, as well as Polish.
Now, the opponents say that a power plant would just make bad air quality worse and that its three towering smokestacks would ruin a picturesque waterfront. A Transgas spokesman, Michael Woloz, responded that the plant could even improve the current site, which is contaminated by a century of fuel storage, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. He also said the plant would lower energy costs for New Yorkers, and that the company would donate money to other projects that will improve the neighborhood.
One man particularly intrigued by the connection to Alexandr Solzhenitsyn is Antoni Chroscielewski, 76, president of the Polish National Home. In 1939, the Soviet Union occupied Mr. Chroscielewski 's East Polish town and the next year he was deported to what is now Kazakhstan. Alexandr Solzhenitsyn was sent to a gulag, also in what is now Kazakhstan, after his arrest in 1945.
"I mentioned [to the younger Mr. Solzhenitsyn] that I was two years in Siberia," Mr. Chroscielewski said. "It did not make a big impression on him."
Sitting in the Warsaw, the downstairs bar at the Polish National Home, a recent evening, Mr. Chroscielewski explained the mixed feelings that he, like many Poles, has about the elder Mr. Solzhenitsyn: he admired the writer for his opposition to the Soviet regime but ran into disappointment in mid-1990s, when Mr. Solzhenitsyn publicly opposed Poland's joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO.
The decision over the Transgas plant is now in state hands, ultimately the hands of Governor George Pataki. And Mr. Chroscielewski sees another connection there: Mr. Pataki is of Hungarian extraction, and "Hungary and Poland are very close, like brothers," he said.
Subscribe to the Mailing List
© 2017 FutureOfCapitalism LLC