"I don't believe in journalists having 'responsibility.'"
-Seth Lipsky, October 16, 2003

Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll demanded on August 20, 2003, that Washington "finish the war" against "the Arabs."

Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll assembled their staff for a Champagne toast to mass death on the commencement of hostilities against Iraq. Stoll called it "my war." CNN maintains a running update here of Americans killed in Ira's war.

On February 6, 2003, Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll wrote, in all seriousness, of a pending anti-war demonstration that the "the New York City police could do worse, in the end, than to allow the protest and send two witnesses along for each participant, with an eye toward preserving at least the possibility of an eventual treason prosecution."

The June 9, 1995 Wall Street Journal quoted an SEC complaint against New York Sun backer Bruce Kovner as saying Kovner had "altered and destroyed" subpoenaed evidence. We wish you'd do the same to the daily print run of your God-awful newspaper, Bruce.

Also, Professor G. Harlan Reynolds alleged on August 27, 2002 - when the Sun was several months in publication - that Seth Lipsky and Ira Stoll had not yet paid him for a piece authored for their inaugural issue.

 
 
   
 
Saturday, January 11, 2003
 
LFLS faithful, the business of tackling a few family matters will render me incommunicado for some days. Before I go quiet, let me answer some more reader mail.

I am confused about what one of your readers wrote. Do you only read the online Sun? Then how come you critique Alicia Colon's column. I have never read any of her columns online.
In the main, we concentrate on Sun articles available online. This is mainly because Seth and Ira - our true quarry - feature their rantings there, and because some of the material featured in the Sun is so outlandish that without links to the original, we'd certainly be accused of inventing the object of our criticism.
I do live in NYC and buy the Sun.
You're part of a conspicuously small minority.
Do you live out of state? Do you have someone read it to you?
Yes. We are based in Pawnee, Illinois. We have agents in New York who send us the paper via radio facsimilie, morse code, semaphore, and/or smoke signal.
How come you know so much personal stuff about Ira and Seth?
I actually know little of Seth and Ira, and wish I knew less. I am wholly uninterested in them personally, and am solely interested in them as watchmen of the shrine to imbecility that Steinhardt et al. fortified to the tune of $20 million.
Why are you so nasty?
Booze. Same as Hitchens.
At least Brad Olsen makes sense but you seem to harbor a personal grudge against them which discredits your criticism.
We never intended the present site to be in any way serious. Consider what it is we confine ourselves to: the steady increase of idiocy and the the accrued stupidity of the Sun. There's only so much you can do with so little, and even then there's no obligation of polite engagement.
Also why do you care whether they are originally from out-of-town. Most journalists who work in the city are from other cities. So What?
Seth and Ira profess to be New York journalists, a twofold error. Most arriving journalists - which Seth and Ira are emphatically not; they're better described as merchants of prejudice - don't bother to pack their parochialism when relocating to New York, Rod Dreher being a glaring exception. But even Dreher is exceeded by Seth and Ira, both fatally alienated from the city they presume to cover. It shows in their selection of all those stories about which New Yorkers care so deeply: tort reform, the moral and tactical splendors of Ariel Sharon, innumerable accounts of Vermont squirrels and Carolina box turtles, and budget-busting cocktails. Of course one needn't be from New York to write about it. Just read a real newspaper. Some of the writings originating with the Post, now a hostel for visiting Aussies, are quite fair.
You seem to know what is going on in their offices. Do you have a spy there? Is it Ms. Colon? You've gone easy on her.Of course, I don't care because she's my favorite.
We have that much in common, dear reader. Though she furnishes next to no evidence of it in her Sun column, Ms. Colon is in agreeable person with whom one can dialogue. We appreciate her civility despite our occasional rough handling of her words. She seems a decent person who certainly would not betray a confidence. Do you think she'd serve as anybody's spy?

We're not saying we have a spy, though we can imagine certain Sun staffers, tempted by the receipt of a perfect couch in exchange, reconnoitering the newsroom.

Friday, January 10, 2003
 
Today’s Jason L. Riley negative review of the film ‘Just Married’ takes a turn for the odd. Riley writes disparagingly of today’s films for the youth crowd, noting that “Between 1984 and 1987 alone, Rob Reiner made ‘The Sure Thing; Robert Zemeckis made ‘Back to the Future”; and John Hughes went crazy” with films like ‘Pretty in Pink’ and ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.’ Riley then (and this is the odd part) goes on to tie the quality of these films to “the Reagan years. . . you might even call the decade something of a Golden Age for the Clearasil crowd.” It is true that these films were made in the 80s, and that Reagan was president during most of those years; however, Riley neglects a number of other teen-oriented films made during that Golden Age. Further, his choices of Reiner, Zemeckis, and Hughes as filmic exemplars seems, given Riley and the Sun’s preoccupations with moral uprightness, disconcerting.

Also, despite Bro. Olivier’s declamation that we weren’t going to mention it, a quick word on yesterday’s “book review” (love those Sun-style sarcasti-quotes), by Ira Stoll, on Joe Lieberman’s new book; Ira opens with an anecdote (although anecdotes are often supposed to be humorous) about sharing an elevator with Lieberman and Al Franken. Ira scrawls, "It was the mid-1990s. Mr. Lieberman hadn't yet become world-famous as Al Gore's vice-presidential choice, and Mr. Franken hadn't yet become semi-famous as the author of the book 'Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot.'" Ira: we know that you just turned a tender 30, but Al Franken was semi-famous long before he wrote the (incredible, hilarious, all-time classic) book to which you refer. Although in fairness, an ordinary semi-intelligent guy shouldn't be expected to have heard of Saturday Night Live.

Finally, today’s Police Blotter carries the headline “Synagogue Doused With Gasoline,” but does not mention whether the usual suspect has an alibi.
 
Sigh.

Despite having foreswarn battering the Sun's young staff, Benjamin Smith's disgusting outing has forced me to renege. Titled "Out-of-Towners Packing City Homeless Shelters" and subtitled - without any but anecdotal evidence to back the assertion - New York’s 'Right to Shelter' Is Draw That Attracts Thousands to City. The stuff is the familiar "fuck you, I got mine" treatment of homelessness and poverty typical of the right: e.g., "For those newly arrived in search of shelter, Puerto Rico appears to be a common place of origin." What makes it truly objectionable is that it was printed in a fifth-rate paper founded and staffed by out-of-towners. And Big Ben himself is so utterly out of touch with the persons born and reared in New York that he's completely unable to relate to them in any significant way. This is after all a man who contents himself with circumambulations about the Sun's offices - in the tightest of concentrics - and presumes to know something about the city.

Sigh.

Anyway, today be Friday. If Brad Olson can be bothered to rouse himself from his perfect couch (remember the stricture against coveting thy neighbor's perfect couch, Rachel Donadio), an arts and entertainment update will follow.

Thursday, January 09, 2003
 
The Sun has updated twice in a few scant hours, a major feat for such lesser minds. And look what they've updated with! Yes, Ira Stoll steps up to lead The Charge of the Shite Brigade, lousing up a book review terribly and proving that it is in fact possible to exceed Michiko Kakutani in the ability to annoy. Ira's bleat is so parched for insight and absent of heft that we've declined to comment on it. I'm passing it along to Brad Olson's wife, who has 25 years of workaday experience with similarly unsuccessful attempts at communication.
 
Continuing with the bizarre misapprehension of fact on Seth and Ira's part revealed in their choice to headline an article "Bush, Responding to Voters, Offers Sweeping Tax Cuts." The editors appear to think: a) That The People are worth listening to, and b) That The People want "Sweeping Tax Cuts." A corollary c) That the "Sweeping Tax Cuts" are anything other than a monstrously bad idea is unstated, though as they would benefit Michael Steinhardt greatly, Seth and Ira are no doubt saying so. Let's take them in reverse order.

re: c), the proposal is already subject the bipartisan pillorying it deserves. Max Sawicky here links to a far-right critique and supplies the beginnings of his own here. The first critique is more damning, though not for its merits but for its source. If you can't even convince those espousing to "Promote Economic Growth," you're doing a poor job.

On to b). Just like Michael Steinhardt likes to have the eloquence-deficient Seth and Ira express his opinion, we'll defer to Ruy Teixeira here:
For example, in the Los Angeles Times survey, the public was asked what they thought would be more effective in stimulating the economy: "an economic agenda focused on returning money to taxpayers through tax cuts, or an economic agenda focused on spending for improvements to the country’s infrastructure such as roads, bridges and schools?" By 53 percent to 39 percent, the public said they preferred the infrastructure improvements approach. Even more compelling, the public overwhelming said they did not want even the tax cuts currently scheduled for 2004 and 2006 to go through if that meant that "money will have to be taken out of Social Security funds to pay for other government programs as a result" (opposed by 77 percent to 15 percent).
Interestingly, Seth and Ira riff on b) in their opening to today's "Precedents To Remember," an advertorial the fancy so nice, they ran it twice on their website. That piece opens: "Writing in The New York Sun on the eve of the election in November, Jack Newfield argued — shrewdly, in our estimation — that what the election was really about was taxes and judges." Or, more simply, "Jack Newfield veered amazingly close to our prejudices and nearly acknowledged our obsessions." Again contrast with Mr. Teixeira, a man who doesn't flee empirical reality but spends his days gauging it:
The Republicans had a very good election in 2002 for reasons that have been discussed in detail in several editions of Public Opinion Watch. These reasons ranged from high levels of Republican mobilization to poor Democratic mobilization and choice of issues to President Bush’s barnstorming pre-election tour focusing on national and homeland security. But conspicuously lacking among these reasons was enthusiastic support for the Republicans’ approach to specific issues of the day.
In sum, this is a program alien to The People's concerns.

The few dozen people regularly reading the Sun for its provision of unintended laughs know well that Seth, Ira and their backers have nothing but contempt for the construct known as "The People." a), therefore, isn't much worth arguing. I must say though that we love it when the Sun speaks of "barren wastelands on the other side of the Hudson." They certainly meant areas to the west, but, given Seth and Ira's emergence from the intellectual backwoods of Massachusetts (please stop trying to depict yourselves as New Yorkers; it's a very unconvincing routine. Oh, and Seth, box the fedora!), their words are more appropriate to lands to the east - specifically those just north of Rhinecliff to those a few miles above Troy.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003
 
Sorry I haven’t posted for a while, but I’ve been busy studying; wish me luck on the big test.

In today’s special Frum-tastic edition of the New York Sun, David Frum is also represented on the editorial page defending our Selected Leader’s new economic proposal. After much careful consideration, and a prolonged study of his collected works, I have come to the opinion that Frum sucks harder than Dick Morris at a shrimping convention. By the way, does anyone besides me think that, by authoring the Axis of Evil line, and by including North Korea in said Axis, Frum Hunger should share the blame for the current crisis?

Elsewhere on the editorial page, SethAndIra continue their tiresome “Closing the Gap” feature in which they suggest ways to make up New York City’s budget gap. Previously they have recommended offering school vouchers (A shock!) and ending free parking for members of the press (the Sun would thus be unaffected). Today they advocate melting down or selling the city’s two statues of Horace Greeley, branding the New York Tribune editor “one of the foremost advocates of accommodation with Southern slaveholders up to the Civil War.” Anyway, SethAndIra are at least accurate when they write that Charles Dana, of the New York Sun---The Good Years, opposed slavery; they manage at the same time to continue their unseemly habit of pretending that they have any relation to the Sun’s hallowed predecessor. (Dana is now perhaps best known as the man who spins in his grave every day except weekends and major holidays.) In addition, quoting Greeley’s famous “Go West, young man” statement, SethAndIra make reference to “the barren wastelands on the other side of the Hudson;” obviously, a bald-faced attack on certain citizens of a small Midwestern town. . .
 
Seth and Ira deface one of the few balanced pieces to ever run in their print warblog by headlining it "Bush, Responding to Voters, Offers Sweeping Tax Cuts," a title seemingly unrelated to the the text. The article mentions many of the concerns enumerated a few days back by Floyd Norris some days back, and details many of controversies - both actual and prospective - occasioned by the Bush plan. A detailed exploration or even perfunctory excursus on the nature of Bush's "response" to the voters who, undetected by us, were clamoring for the elimination of taxes on stock dividends is nowhere to be found. So why did Seth and Ira brand the halfway decent effort with a headline so utterly unrepresentative of what follows? As a real newspaper reported on January 6:
Some of Mr. Bush's Democratic critics even question the existence of a so-called investor class as anything other than an excuse for Republicans to cut taxes again for the wealthy.
From where we sit, it seems the big believers in the existence of the 'investor class' number exactly 11: coke-fueled chat show host Larry Kudlow and these 10 allied a-holes.

Timothy Starks returns today to share more of his trademark absurdist humor. Today he discourses on his colleague David Frum, author of a yawn-provoking book on the Bush administration - which, according to Frum, has "a dearth of really high-powered brains." We're sure that today's dearth was, before February 26, a surplus, David.

Brad Olson has described Auntie Em Tyrrell's columns as "mash notes" to president Bush. Frum's book is likewise a mash note, as is Mr. Starks' latest. Taken together, it's nothing if not a daisy chain, with Big Dave Frum as the unlikely Lucky Pierre.

Mr. Frum, who overcame Andrew-Sullivan-high heights of adversity ("a Canadian in America; a Jew in a Christian culture; a non-speechwriter who got a job as a speechwriter in the land’s highest office"), cites Bush's alleged "decency, honesty, rectitude, courage, and tenacity." More readable papers having bigger fish to fry than to airkiss their staffers have been commenting on Bush's lunatic paranoia, a diagnosis substantiated amply by the patient's own statements. Seth and Ira meanwhile speak sweet nothings to power in the curious belief that the people who count are listening, a demonstrably deluded belief. After all, even the bloggers of mass destruction, the Sun's logical constituency, can't be bothered to pony up a quarter for the limp rag.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003
 
A now familiar reader writes:
But oh, Lord, you must have said some great things today. I wish you would have mentioned something about the "return" of the "scare quotes"! Did you notice that now it's campaign finance "reform"? Lovely.

Incidentally, good sir, it always kills me that you only seem to read the paltry source material that is provided online. Such makes you miss out on absolute gems like "North Korea's Nukes" from January 2, 2003. In this priceless editorial, Mr. Lipsky suggests that all this North korea mess would have been solved years ago, if only Bill Clinton had listened to the Forward. As worthless a piece of self-promotion as has ever stumbled off a Sun keyboard.

A happy new year to you.
And to you.

A word is in order reagrding our specific attention to the online "content" of the "newspaper." A perusal of the LFLS archives will show that we direct the better part of our fire squarely at Seth and Ira, whose hallucinations figure prominently on the Sun's website. We try to limit ourselves to their zaniness. It would be a great shame for the Sun's staff to take undue casualties. After all, Seth, the journalistic Fagin, has inflicted damage enough on his young staff. Daphna Berman will never recover from the ravages visited upon her by the newsroom chickenhawk. Surely no one could live down the scarlet letters comprising "Park Peace Protest Is Riddled With Anti-Semitism." The world of serious journalism is for Ms. Berman foreclosed, and we consumers thereof are forever deprived her imaginative scribblings.

With friendly fire taking such a toll, taking the odd potshot at the young staff becomes inhumane if not liable to prosecution.

It has happened in the past that after falling upon a Sun contributor in our brutal manner, Brad Olson and I have received requests from the individual under question asking that their names be redacted from the site so as not to impair their chances with Google-conversant prospects. We have complied with these requests without fail, such is our concern for Seth and Ira's unfortunate subalterns. We wish them all the briefest and least violent encounter with Seth and Ira's barbarism as is possible. And we especially wish Rachel Donadio luck on her quest for the perfect couch.

On to the case of Timothy Starks, age unknown. Starks files a piece of reporatge that rises above the awful when confining itself to factuals. "New York Will Be Host Of the GOP Convention," however, departs from fact often enough to ruin it completely. Is Mr. Starks at all serious when he writes that the unelected president's "leadership had a coming of age in New York after the terrorist attacks of September 11?" Unlikely given that he follows with this:
“New York City is really the personification, the symbol, of what this administration did in fighting terrorism, in fighting back, and in coming back stronger than ever,” said Rep. Peter King, a Republican of New York.
Sublime stuff! After all, Peter King himself occupies the nexus of leadership and terror. Seth and Ira have yet to nominate their man Starks for the award of which he is so deserving, though we hope they recognize the sterling stuff issuing from Mr. Starks' pen.

Monday, January 06, 2003
 
The computer just crapped out on me, folks. I haven't the energy to recreate my post re: Seth and Ira's latest transgression against common sense, "Saudi Spending," in today's Sun. When - if, actually; the paper's readership is tending toward nil - you read it, note how the duo deliver their backing plutocrats (many members of the Mother Jones 400) line so well, and how they bay and howl over Messrs. McCain and Feingold's denying individuals the right to contribute sums in excess of the average annual income without disclosure. They contrast this outrage with another outrage: the legality of the Saudi PR effiort, a pseudo-story the Sun has been pushing for weeks to extremely poor results. The inefficacy of the Saudi initiative is commented upon, and the piece closes on an up beat: "If the Saudi spending shows the American judges that the American electorate is not so vulnerable that it must be sheltered from political speech, the kingdom will have finally provided America a useful, if unintended, service."

But it's not the supposedly bainful effect of "political speech" on the American electorate that's objectionable. The damage is done elsewhere.

 

 
   
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