Politics: Sudoku in The Examiner

When reading the likes of Paul Johnson, William F. Buckley, or even David Brooks, it is easy to get so caught up in the eloquence of the writing and ostentatious erudition, that one misses the distortions (and sometimes plain lies) and specious arguments. It doesn’t take much of a leap to conclude that the well-written, pointedly erudite presentation is intended as a smokescreen for what are almost always poor arguments.

I was in San Francisco today, so I grabbed a copy of The San Francisco Examiner. My reason for picking it up was the hope that it contained a Sudoku puzzle. It did. But before I got to it, I read the whole paper.

The Cover Story

The cover story was about a court’s finding that Judge Walker—who overturned the intolerant Prop. 8 banning gay married—needn’t have recused himself from the trial. Gay rights opponents claimed that Walker could not be impartial because he was gay. How a heterosexual person would be any more even-handed is not clear. But many things are unclear from the article. Most of it puts forth the anti-Walker case: fags can’t be objective about fag things. The article spends much more time presenting and sanitizing this objection. It ends with two paragraphs about how two different groups are planning to appeal the ruling. (To be fair, the article does describe the pro-Walker argument. It is done well, but isn’t the core of the article.)

The rest of the issue is typical local news and the usual AP stories you would think would be written locally: an article about the California budget and a surprisingly thoughtful article about Schwarzenegger’s sex scandal. It is only when we get the editorial page that things take on a very bad turn.

The Editorial Page

Of the four major editorials, all but one written by people on the staff at The Weekly Standard. The first, unattributed article is, “Four Pivotal Questions for Tim Geithner.” The article is riddled with Republican talking points designed to scare rather than enlighten. The author makes the argument that since bond prices haven’t gone up in the face of threats not to increase the debt ceiling, there must be no problem—preposterous. He also slams Obama for saying Chrysler paid back the bailout when they have not yet paid back money Bush loaned. Not really the same thing, right? Just a commentator going out of his way to find fault? You bet.

Then we get to the Weekly Standard guys. David Gelernter writes, “Ryan must get to the point.” From the title you would think the article is critical of the Representative. Instead, it says what Ryan has said ad nauseum, that people don’t like his program because they don’t understand it. Quite the opposite is true; the better people understand his plan, the more they hate it. It is, after all, a way of taking benefits away from the poor and middle-class to give giant tax-cuts for the wealthy.

Lee Smith ends his article, “Israel may be drawn into the turmoil of violent Arab spring.” Here he presents a surprisingly clear statement of the racism in the USA that defines Israel as good and Palestine as bad: “The problem is the character of the societies that gives rise to these regimes.” Additionally, he finds we can only refer to the peace process by putting the phrase itself in scare quotes: “peace process.”

Finally, we get to the big guns of William Kristol and Jamie M. Fly (of the Foreign Policy Institute). They wrote an article called, “Panetta’s duty to the Constitution.” I find it ironic that Kristol only seems concerned about the Constitution when Democrats are in charge. The article itself has little to say other than to warn Panetta to uphold the Constitution. What does that mean? Give defense as much money as they want.

I’m not surprised to find The Examiner nothing more than a mouthpiece for the right wing. It has taken me this long to read it in its current form because its covers are visually obnoxious: what I would expect from the New York Post or the National Enquirer. They are clearly going after the lowest instincts of the public.

Not a Total Loss

But then, I wasn’t after news. Unfortunately, the Sudoku puzzle I sought was also disappointing. It was very easy, as one might expect. It did, however, offer an interesting moment. I got a good ten minutes out of it. So the experience wasn’t a complete loss.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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