Scott Shane

WHAT A SPELL of cultural miseries. Oprah Winfrey commended “Pierre de Chardin” to the graduates of Spelman College and exhorted them to “let excellence be your brand.” Yale University elected to have its commencement addressed by Barbara Walters. Al Sharpton appeared in the pages of The New York Times Book Review, which warmly noted that its reviewer has lost a lot of weight and eats fish twice a week and many vegetables. And Daniel Bell was made responsible for the Iraq war.

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My posting, “All of Western Civilization Could Soon Be Threatened By a Nuclear Iran,” went up on Friday/Saturday at midnight. I don’t know whether there have ever been as many readers’ comments as there were for this piece. To be sure, some of them were simply stupid and produced by the lame brains who have attached themselves (ongetshepet, my mother would have said onomatopoetically) to my writings.

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Apparently, Muslims are also not particularly stirred by the president’s policies. They wanted him to be more forthright and more forthcoming on their issues as he had indicated he would be in his much-vaunted “new beginning” speech last year in Cairo. In a New York Times dispatch yesterday, Sheryl Gay Stolberg cites an Arab-American journalist as complaining that Obama has since left many Muslims disappointed. Well, on this count, at least, those disappointed Muslims are at one with most other Americans.

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The only good result of this trauma is that nobody died. And, of course, we now know—as if we didn’t know before!—that we can count on the local police, the FBI, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force to actually come through with the culprit and the evidence against him. (The fecklessness of the Justice Department is another matter. At first, it did not read Faisal Shahzad his Miranda rights. Then, when he began copiously to spill the beans, the Holder folk did inform him. Maybe they were afraid that they’d learn too much.

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“Copacetic.” “Fine and dandy,” says the Webster's New International. Textured origins can be found in the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language and the various Oxfords. Mixed origins, actually, from the black South, Creole French, Harlem jazz, Italian and Hebrew/Yiddish. The last pairing points to a Hebrew phrase, “kol b'tsedek,” “all with justice.” I've never heard this phrase, and I don't believe it's the secret behind "copacetic" for a moment.

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The New York Times is on to this story, very fast and very detailed. A dispatch from Washington by Scott Shane, Eric Schmitt and Eric Lipton reveals that the father of the would-be killer had told American officials (in Lagos, maybe) "several weeks ago" of the involvement of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, his son, with terrorist and extremist Muslim organizations. But, write the reportorial trio, apparently "the initial information was not specific enough to raise alarms that he could potentially carry out a terrorist attack." My God, what would be information "specific enough?" This is at least t

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New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt has an extremely unconvincing piece today in support of the paper's decision to publish the name of one of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's interrogators.

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The Politics Of Iraq

Two New York Times stories today give a nice glimpse into where the Iraq debate stands, politically speaking. The first is a rather positive profile of Oregon Senator Gordon Smith.

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