"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, August 16, 2003
Hello to our many friends in NYC, hopefully everybody is doing OK. . .

And hello to yesterday’s New York Sun! We had no idea that the incompetents would be able to get out an issue, as the news made it sound like New York was basically in holiday mode, and we all know the Sun takes its holidays seriously. Of course, we have no idea whether the Sun edition available online actually made it to print and got distributed, but, in the spirit of charity, we will give the Sunnis the benefit of the doubt. We will also assume Seth and Ira decided to work from home, and the paper was in fact put together by their more talented, long-suffering staff.

Sadly, though, the Boys of Bummer were still able to phone in a couple of horrendous idiotorials. One was entitled “The Spirit of New York,” and began, “This city, New York, which we love, has been going through a rough patch lately. . . . In a strange way we New Yorkers are used to it.” In an even stranger way, we New Yorkers are from Massachusetts! And the bleat goes on, “The past year has seen a property tax increase, an income tax increase, a subway fare increase, and a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. Put together with the still-sluggish local economy, it’s enough even to make the happiest New Yorker cranky.” They forgot to mention the fact that there is also STILL no school voucher system, but anyway, on to the paean: “And yet New Yorkers responded to yesterday’s blackout with characteristic grit and good cheer. People did help each other get out of subway tunnels. [I believe those people are called “MTA employees and cops.”] People gathered together around battery-operated radios [as opposed to the coal-burning kinds outlawed by the Democrats], shared information with strangers [hey, just like Jonathan Pollard!], and for the most part behaved responsibly. So far as we can tell, there was no widespread looting.” Thanks, Negroes!

OK, so now I’m just being mean. Here the Sun is, with a good-hearted idio. . . I mean editorial, singing the praises of New York, and all I can do is make nasty. . . oh, wait: “New York’s rebuilding from the last disaster has been hampered by Mayor Bloomberg’s tax increases. In guiding the city’s recovery from the economic effects of the blackout, Mr. Bloomberg may wish to reconsider his approach.” Ah. I see. Well, gotta get pissed at somebody.

Gotta blame somebody, too! In an accompanying idiotorial, SethAndIra reveal the identity of the guilty party! An antiquated national power grid? Nope. A few power lines in Ohio? Guess again, Jack. No, it’s. . . Robert Kennedy Jr. and Riverkeeper!!

The fools write, “You might ask what the darkness that descended upon New York City last night has to do with Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr.” To tell the truth, I might ask, “Who is this Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr.?” I might ask, because they seem to be talking about Robert FRANCIS Kennedy, Jr., son of the late Senator, Attorney General, and Great American Robert FRANCIS Kennedy, Sr. WETS???? Oh, yeah, the same moron who wrote the above sentence. . . Anyhow, Ira (I presume even Seth would realize that RFK had a different middle name than his brother) Stool really does blame Mr. Kennedy Jr. and his excellent environmental organization for the blackout. Fuckwit writes, “it is Mr. Kennedy’s Riverkeeper organization that has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past month promoting the idea that Governor Pataki should close the Indian Point nuclear power plant. As New Yorkers saw yesterday, what the city needs at this point is more power, not less.” See? Riverkeeper’s campaign to shut down Indian Point “over the past month” is what did it!! Don’t matter that the plant hasn’t, in fact, been shut down. It’s the idea that the plant should be shut down that caused the blackout!! Damn you, Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy Jr.!!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2003
A meditation on punctuation

We here at LFLS have been giving something of a pass to new Sun reporter Luiza Chwiaikowska, who appears to be the person the "newspaper" has taken on to replace the shitcanned Tim Starks. (Congrats on your new gig, Mr. Starks, getting fired by the likes of Lipsky is an excellent career move.) This is part grace period, part plain old grace -- we generally like to reserve our bile for the idiots who edit the paper and their overweight financiers.

Today we do not aim to draw attention to Ms. Chwiaikowska's reporting, which is much better than it need be to compete with the likes of Ira Stoll. But L.C.'s dispatch from Washington today, "Soros Chastised by Liberal Advocates of Campaign Finance Reform," has gotten me thinking about punctuation, a favorite topic of ours at LFLS -- and a favorite topic, evidently, of our readers.

The headline puzzles me. I thought it was "campaign finance 'reform.'" After all, whenever the Sun idiotorializes on the topic it puts the ol' scare quotes around "reform." And the Sun idiotorializes on campaign finance reform a lot; it is about one of six topics in this big wide world, along with tax cuts, school vouchers, Ahmad Chalabi, affirmative action, and pure nonsense, that the Sun puts in editorial rotation, like a bad jukebox.

I have always been a bit confused by these scare quotes. What exactly is the Sun trying to imply? That the McCain-Feingold law does not, in fact, represent a "reform" of the campaign finance system? What kinds of changes to the campaign finance system would it take for the Sun to remove the deadly scare quotes from "reform"? Perhaps if the political system, much like the Sun itself, was bankrolled and subservient to a handful of ultra-wealthy reactionaries? Are we so far from there anyway?

But this koan has to sit a minute. After all, in graf 2: "the watchdog groups said yesterday that the pledge flies in the face of the campaign finance 'reform' movement Mr. Soros helped fund." The scare quotes! Where were they in the headline? Then, later: "the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002." No scare quotes! Now, the name of the Act being a proper noun, maybe Ira felt it improper to soil it with his high school newspaper editing techniques.

And then, quoting a guy from Public Citizen: "'What Soros is doing is antithetical to the spirit of the new campaign finance reform law,' said Craig Holman." No scare quotes in the quoted text. But quoted text is just words; it comes without punctuation. Why not pepper up Holman's language so his words more accurately reflect the reality of "reform"? It's a mad, mad, mad world.

Then, we see Mr. Soros -- more specifically his possessive -- used in different ways. We see reference to "Mr. Soros’s new group," then reference to "Mr. Soros’ money." Which is it? Soros's, or Soros'?

I turn to the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition:
How to form the possessive of polysyllabic personal names ending with the sound of s or z probably occasions more dissension among writers and editors than any other orthographic matter open to disagreement.... The University of Chicago Press prefers the procedures outlined above [in which the "s'" is reserved for dudes like Moses and Jesus or nouns ending with an "eez" sound]. It is willing, however, to accept other ways of handling these situations if they are consistently followed throughout a manuscript.

Of course, Soros's name does not even fall into this category, as it does not end in an "s" sound or a "z" sound. Being a Hungarian name, the final "s" is pronounced "sh." Still, it seems that this particular apostrophe has occasioned much "dissension" over at the Sun, without being consistently followed through the manuscript.

Is Soros on par with Moses or Jesus? Or, WETS?

Housekeeping: The late, great Neal Pollack and blogger Atrios have declared Friday "Fair and Balanced Friday" in honor of Fox News's bullshit lawsuit against Al Franken. We here at LFLS will be happy to participate -- Fox News is, after all, little else if not brown-shirted brethren of the fair-and-balanced Sun -- and we hope our readers will have at it as well.

This is Fair and Balanced Quentin C. Robinson, yours in Fairness and Balance.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Today the Sun’s Julia Levy gives a big “How are you?” to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial campaign, announcing, “It was part Kindergarten Cop and part Conan in New York yesterday as Arnold Schwarzenegger swooped into town to inspire homeless kids, hobnob with fat-cat Republicans, and pick up some political support from Governor Pataki.” Levy noted the candidate was well-tanned, well dressed, and full of handshakes as he greeted his many well-wishers, including a group of schoolchildren “decked out in uniform T-shirts for the big visit.” Our ace “reporter” goes on to note that Schwarzenegger went on to dine with stars such as Katie Couric and Revlon head Ron Perelman.

But how exactly was the visit “part Kindergarten Cop and part Conan”? Well, while meeting with the students Schwarzenegger discovered that one child’s father was, in fact, a notorious drug dealer from Two Moon Junction, on hand to spirit his son from the school. Shouting, “I’m a gubernatorial candidate, dammit!”, Schwarzenegger took out the bad guy in his own inimitable (well, very imitable, actually) fashion, quipping, “I like you Solly. That’s why I’m going to kill you last.” Later in the evening, during dinner, the candidate was asked why he finally decided to run for office. His reply: “To crush [my] enemies, see them driven before [me], and to hear the lamentations of their women.” What a campaign this should be!

“Yeah. Yes.”

Monday, August 11, 2003
It is always a joyous day in SethAndIranistan when Ira Stool blesses us with one of his journalistic gems. It is even more joyous when he puts his rant on the front page of the Sun. But, as he puts everything he writes on the front page, we hold out for the special bliss of seeing Ira's byline on the lead news story of the day.

So, with glee, we turn to "Iran Pressing Campaign To Undermine America," a dispatch so nonsensical that I think it would be sufficient to cut and paste it to this page. But, to save you, my dear reader, I will summarize.

Ira starts his "news" story with this sentence: "The Iranian government, feeling pressured by popular protests and by America’s increasing presence in the region, is responding with a four-pronged policy aimed at preserving its regime and weakening America." Interesting. But we do have to start with a little guess-work. By "the region" I am going to assume he means the Middle East, or perhaps he means Central Asia. Either way, we can safely assume that he means somewhere between Israel and India. I wish he would just tell us.

He continues, "That is the assessment from those familiar with events inside Iran and nearby states." Now, just to save you the anticipation, Ira never really names "those familiar with events," except to quote a smattering of foreign policy types who don't say any such thing. So, what we have here, unless Ira is just making it up (which I wouldn't put past him), is a news story based on Ira's distillation of the unquoted opinions of unnamed sources.

And just what is this devious "four-pronged policy"? Ira summarizes it thus:
• Budgeting several billion dollars to build a nuclear bomb by the time of the next American presidential inauguration, in January 2005.

• Moving aggressively to expand Iranian influence in Syria by building mosques in Damascus and by providing free and low-cost oil to the Syrians.

• Undermining America in Iraq by working with Saudi Arabia, Syrians, and loyalists to Saddam Hussein.

• Pressing a campaign of meetings between Iranian officials and American foreign policy experts.

Interesting points, all. Too bad they don't hold up.

On the first point, nuclear weapons, Ira provides no information, first of all, to back up his claim of their timetable, coinciding with the presidential inauguration. I guess we'll just have to take the word of "those familiar with events." Further, he undermines his point, later in his story, by saying, "North Korea and Pakistan are getting friendlier treatment from the Bush administration than Iran does, and the mullahs think that is because Pyongyang and Islamabad already have nuclear weapons."

So, they want "friendlier treatment," those demonic "mullahs," from an America that they also want "weakened." Is it just the "mullahs" who think North Korea and Pakistan are getting better treated by the Bushies because they have nuclear weapons? Does Ira think that? Does Ira think like the "mullahs"? Does dispatching John Bolton to Asia to all but announce the American intention to obliterate North Korea qualify as "friendlier" than our relations with Iran, which have included exchanges of military pleasantries and cooperation in Afghanistan?

Ah, but on to the second point: Iran's criminal dealings in Syria. "The Iranians are now building new Shiite mosques all over Damascus," Ira reports. The bastards!

On the point about oil ties: "With Saddam ousted, the Syrians needed a new sponsor, and found it in Iran, which has stepped in to provide oil to Syria in exchange for the right to use Syria as a base of operations against America in Iraq." Where did he get this sensational bit of information? He doesn't tell us. "Those familiar with events."

Then, the third prong of the "mullahs'" fork of death, the Iranian military operations against America in Iraq. "The Iranian actions against America in Iraq are driven by the examples of Somalia and Beirut, where Americans bled and fled," says Chickenhawk Ira, who has never bled nor fled. "The Iranians are said to be hoping for America to react to the casualties in Iraq by leaving there, too." Here we go again. "Said to be hoping for" -- who said? This is becoming a rhetorical question.

Finally, the most dastardly of Iran's moves, "Pressing a campaign of meetings between Iranian officials and American foreign policy experts."

Have they no shame? A "campaign of meetings"! Surely this will undermine America! What the fuck is Ira talking about?

Finally, the real diamond in the roughage, Ira retells a familiar Iranian folk story he grew up listening to by the fireplace:

An Iranian story involves a man falsely accused of a crime by a scoundrel. The case goes before a meticulously honest judge.The man considers bribing the judge, but is advised that such an attempt would certainly backfire, with the insulted judge finding the man guilty. The accused man went ahead and sent the bribe, and was found innocent. Later, he explained that he had sent the bribe in the scoundrel’s name. Such deception characterizes the Iranian activities in Iraq,according to those familiar with them.


I give up. Elsewhere in the Sun, Bruce Bartlett praises unemployment. Mark Steyn calls Broadway "a shriveled little self-regarding gay ghetto" and identifies Gene Bishop, the gay Episcopalian bishop of New Hampshire, "a man who broke up his family because he put his sexual appetites before his daughters." But Ira has me all tired out.

To all of you staff at the New York Sun, and I know you read this, keep in mind that you are subordinate to Ira. Not in any real sense of the word, just in the up-is-down world that obtains at Chambers Street.


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