The clash between their "Summer Homes in The Hamptons" advertising and their "Liberate The Masses" content had started giving me headaches.
This month, I was emailing back and forth with Roger Kimball of The New Criterion about a slightly unrelated Harper's topic (how's that for name dropping....) and he gifted us with this Kimball-esque gem: "Curious what happy bedfellows anti-capitalist rhetoric and shameless capitalist practices make."
I wish I'd said that. But yeah. Roger Kimball. I've emailed him. He's answered. If you want to know more about him, go to Pajamas Media in the blogroll at right.
So a couple of weeks ago when I picked up the February Harper's, I was loaded for bear. I, The Whited Sepulchre, have gotten an email from Roger Kimball of The New Freakin' Criterion, dang it. I'm not a journalist, but I have an email from one. I was going to burn up some bandwidth once again explaining the clanging contradictions between Harper's ads and Harper's editorial policy.
First were letters to the editor about the infamous Meredith Broussard and the notorious Peanut Allergy scandal, which has been blogged about on this site ad nauseum. One of the letters was from an eleven-year-old allergy sufferer and activist named Reed. "Thanks for taking me so many steps back in my efforts to raise awareness," young Reed writes in outraged activist fashion. Some might think that young Reed's awareness of consciousness raising techniques confirms Ms. Broussard's statements that this controversy is mostly about the parents, not the kids. Either way, the Harper's Peanut Allergy Controversy is now over.
Lewis Lapham has a garbled editorial about steroids in baseball that might've been interesting had he not felt obligated to drag in Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and George Bush.
In the "Readings" department, they've excerpted an interview from a collection of interviews called "The Corpse Walker". This will be published in full next month, and it's about the horrors of Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. I'm going to buy it. "Here's an interview with a 71-year-old mortician: "During the famine of 1960 (self-inflicted, BTW), since everyone was busy following Mao's grand steel-producing plan, nobody tended the crops in the field. Severe food shortages occurred. Tens of thousands of people died of starvation in this county alone. The large number of deaths made it impossible to conduct burial services for each individual." The joys of Socialism. This all happened within my lifetime.
Scott Horton, a New York attorney, has a decent article about the Bush administration hijacking the Justice Department.
Next is a great one. Ken Silverstein's "Beltway Bacchanal" is about the joys of spending campaign donor money in Washington. When I read the next-to-last paragraph, I almost wept out of gratitude...."Last november, the Senate Finance Committee announced that it would be scrutinizing, as part of a probe of tax-exempt organizations, the compensation packages and perks enjoyed by leaders of some of the nation's top ministries. The committee expressed concern about religious officials granting themselves high salaries, huge travel allowances, private jets, and luxury cars, all paid for by donations to their ministries. "I don't want to conclude that there's a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and the taxpayers to find out more," Senator Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) said at the time the probe was announced. "People who donated should have their money spent as intended."
Whether or not the ministers are a worthy target of investigation, the fact that a high committee of the U.S. Congress would be in charge of such an inquiry is, to put it mildly, ironic. For if there is any single group in America that lives high on funds donated for other purposes, it is our 535 members of Congress. Perhaps they should overlook the motes in the reverends' eyes until they have considered the beams in their own."
I don't think so. I think Congress should investigate. But the discussion of "Who will investigate the investigators" reminded me of a bizarre comment field discussion we had on this topic with someone called Reverend Dan way back in November.
"Mississippi Drift" by Matthew Power, is worth the cost of the magazine. Power meets up with an old anarchist friend named Matt, a "dumpster-diving, train-hopping, animal-rights-crusading anarchist and tramp". Matt has the idea of building a raft of 55-gallon drums, 2x4's, and some pink plastic flamingos. The idea is that several friends will ride this thing down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans. Here are a few quotes from the piece.
Matt and his friends saw stealing as a form of revolt, a means of surviving while they chipped away at the monstrous walls of the capitalist fortress.
After the journey, he (Matt) was moving to Berlin, a squatter's paradise he had visited once and found more livable than anywhere in the United States. "I hate America," he said, without the menace of a McVeigh or a Zarqawi but nevertheless with a feeling.
"This is my boat, and my trip, and nobody is going to tell me what to do," Matt snapped. "If it takes two years, it takes two years. I won't be rushed." The paradox of Matt's position had become clear to all but him: by building a raft to escape the strictures of society, he had made himself a property owner, and subject to the same impulses of possessiveness and control as any suburban homeowner with a mortgage and a hedge trimmer.
Eventually, everyone abandons Matt and his raft. Somewhere around Saint Lous, the raft if trapped between two barges and Matt is lucky to escape with his shorts and T-shirt.
The Annotation section of Harper's isn't dead ! ! ! It was simply recovering from Meredith Broussard ! ! ! This time, they look at a blueprint of the Google data center, somewhere in Oregon. The best part of it is in the top right corner, where they explain the tax breaks, givebacks, and subsidies that make Google, Youtube, and Co. possible.