Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Commentary and open Times

Among the huge benefits to the NY Times' having opened up Times Select(Dan Gillmor's comment) to the non-paying public: Dick Cavett's column is now available to all. Today's is wonderful, on his appearance in the Nixon tapes (much more interesting if you're old enough to remember Dick Cavett): Him, to Kick Around Again.
...there is something unsettling when it’s your name being abused by the chief executive of the United States. And isn’t there something nauseating about the spectacle of the most powerful man in the world scheming to “screw” a late-night chat show that he apparently sees as part of a widespread conspiracy to bring him down?

On that New York Times Select opening, one thing I meant to mention was that I wondered if this meant the Times' archives were now included in this free access, since that was one of the great benefits to Select for subscribers. Now I see Sheila Lennon has already answered this question for me, and she's found that many many years of the archive (1851 to 1922 and 1987 to the present) are now searchable and displayable for free on the Times' site. Sheila: "History -- searchable primary sources -- is now an open book, within certain dates. This is a huge contribution to the culture. Thanks, Gray Lady." Let's hope this lasts.
(Note the archives are in PDF format so you can see how the stories, with photos etc, appeared on the page. I've used it online before, and paid, and you can still get those stories between 1922 and 1987 there too.)

And, a columnist who's guaranteed to get your blood pressure up if you're a confirmed red-stater, the San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Morford, whose column last Friday lays it all on the line: Iraq, deep in your bones; A war that isn't really a war, the great humiliation that's ours forever. Is there any upside? Harsh words but maybe -- just maybe -- a chance for hope, I hope:
Iraq is, was, and forever will be our very own massive strategic blunder, a failed land grab for position and power in a tinderbox region defined by furious instability and corruption and death.
...we are well past the point of salvaging anything noble or honest from Bush's massive, historic debacle. We have only this brutal reality: Iraq is, and forever will be, one of the most extraordinary wastes in all of American history.
...We are not safer. We are not better off in any measurable way. We are not stronger or more unified or prouder or more respected or healthier or wealthier or wiser and we have done exactly zero to stem the flood of radical Islam or the general outpouring of global disgust at what America has become under this president.
...By many measures, the worst of it is over. There really is light coming, a new awareness, a shift away from the bleakness and the rot and the wallowing in bland violence. Perhaps you can feel it.

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