Japan from the inside out

The New York Times (1851-2007): R.I.P.

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, November 3, 2007

RELIABLE SOURCES have informed this website that the American newspaper, The New York Times, passed away on October 20 at the age of 156. The same sources indicate that despite initial reports attributing the cause of death to chronic jaundice, the coroner’s report is expected to state the once-proud media outlet, formerly referred to as “the newspaper of record” by people who should have known better, died of self-inflicted wounds.

News of the fatality arrived at this site through a telephone call from the offices of the Saga Shimbun, a local newspaper in Japan. When asked if the reports of the Times’ demise were credible, the informant stated the Saga newspaper’s employees had spent the day in stunned disbelief and laughter after reading this article, which appeared on the 20th. “If they think this is journalism,” the informant stated, “rigor mortis set in decades ago. It’s absurd, starting with the premise, and it gets worse with each paragraph. I’m surprised this story got past an editor during the first draft.”

Investigators summoned to the home of the deceased on Eighth Ave. in New York City were puzzled by the condition of the premises and theorized the newspaper might have choked on its own parody. “We seriously considered the possibility they just made the whole thing up as a prank,” one revealed. “It’s easy to picture the author smirking to himself when he threw in that nonsense about the ninja.” The investigators concluded, however, that while the Times’ journalism had indeed been a running joke for years due to the unreliability of its stories, particularly about Japan, the article in question was written in dead seriousness.

First, they reportedly found Times’ fingerprints all over the piece: the assignment was conducted by a journalist completely ignorant about anything Japanese, and the article incorporated several unsupported premises, backhanded smears, and intentional distortions (“queer tools”) to convey a negative impression about a story it concocted out of thin air to begin with.

Also, medical personnel at the scene confirmed the lack of a pulse and fixed the time of death at that point the author tried to draw a connection between the alleged fear of crime and the unrelated and intentionally comic creation of chindogu. (Here is a previous Ampontan report on chindogu.) “You’d have to be brain dead to try to make that connection in a legitimate news article,” noted a generic professor of journalism. “And the inclusion of chindogu is a dead giveaway–their inventor specifically stated that they’re not meant to be used.”

Police detectives considered the possibility of a conspiracy, but soon eliminated that hypothesis, again because all the typical Times elements were present. These included the obviously staged photograph and the excessive reliance on a sole source of dubious credibility. “Don’t forget,” said one detective, “this is the same newspaper that lied in its own pages about a joint poll it conducted with CBS News because it didn’t get the results it hoped for.”

Further, this website can reveal that a private investigator interested in the case has turned up information showing that the clothing alleged in the article to be worn as protection from street crime is in fact an eccentric work of art. The Times’ sole source, Aya Tsukioka, is an artist with her own Japanese-language website, where she sells the clothing for 91,000 yen apiece, or almost $US 800.00. The clothing in question has been shown in several art exhibitions dating back to 2001. Said one official, “It wouldn’t be the first time a member of the media bought the farm when it got suckered by bogus information in an overzealous attempt to disparage its subject. Consider the case of the late Dan Rather.”

When informed that publication of the Times had continued after the 20th, the date the article appeared, and therefore it might still be alive despite the absence of vital signs, a person closely connected with the case who spoke on the condition of confidentiality quickly brushed aside the suggestion. “Think of the Times as a type of prehistoric dinosaur. They had immense bodies, but their brains were the size of walnuts. Those bodies would still twitch and thrash even after the brain ceased functioning because it took so long for the signals to travel the length of their nervous systems.”

But the same informant admitted the perception that the Times had survived was a source of concern. “The Internet is glutted with websites that are the intellectual equivalent of people who chew food with their mouths open. These sites require content, and the people who run them are incapable of producing it themselves. That content also has to be superficially clever and unusual enough to attract attention. Many of those sites might link to that article as a way to achieve credibility because they mistakenly believe the Times is still a real newspaper.”

“We’re also concerned that some people might refuse to believe the Times has given up the ghost and insist it is living under an assumed identity as an advertising supplement folded into a Pocatello, Idaho suburban weekly,” he continued. “You know the type—the kind of people who actually believe that 9/11 was an ‘inside job’. We’re bracing ourselves for a rash of false sightings similar to those we received from people who claimed they saw Elvis after his death.”

“Before you scoff,” he cautioned, “consider this. Elvis Presley had ceased to be a real singer for some time before succumbing to his own demons. The man was a musical zombie. He presented ersatz music that satisfied people incapable of recognizing the real thing. Substitute ersatz journalism for ersatz music, and you’ve got the situation in which the Times found itself during its declining years.”

Funeral arrangements are pending, but a family spokesman said any services would be private and might not be held at all due to a lack of interest. “People no longer took the Gray Lady seriously, and some even thought she was already dead. It’s no wonder–she willingly discarded her integrity years ago.”

He suggested that in lieu of flowers, people could send financial contributions to the Committee to Restore Competence to American Journalism.

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51 Responses to “The New York Times (1851-2007): R.I.P.”

  1. mklasing said

    I was going to send a contribution but I thought a more fitting tribute would be to line my bird’s cage with today’s edition.


  2. Overthinker said

    This looks like an April Fools Day joke, but the joke is on the NYT for running this. Or rather, for taking it seriously. I found these comments on a site in Japanese:そもそも「瞬間自動販売機スカート」は防犯グッズではなく芸術作品で、こうしたインタビューへの回答も月岡さんのジョークなのかもしれない。芸術作品であるがゆえに価格は800ドル(約9万1000円)もするのだけど、それでもこれまでに20着が売れたのだそう。(Anyway, this “Instant Vending Machine Skirt” is not anti-crime goods, but an artwork. These interview responses [Tsukioka’s comments about Japanese preferring to hide, foreigners thinking it strange, and the worry about shaking hands preventing rapid deployment] could be her joke. And being an artwork the price is 91,000, but even so apparently twenty have been sold.”

    Since the skirt was first developed for an art exhibition in 2001, the NY Times is also very prompt with its news….
    This is the designer’s home page, btw:

    While there are a number of sites I saw in Japanese that mention it, most are simple translations/summaries of the NYT or Daily Mail articles and have few comments.

  3. Paul said

    I still think the article is sort of correct that Japanese culture is cowardly and autistic, but The New York Times is still a joke to anyone who isn’t a socialist. It’s the same newspaper that employs Paul Krugman as a columnist, and he’s to economics what Michael Behe is to biology.

  4. Anymouse said

    To say they the New York Times seems to lack quality would be understatement. It’s like America’s most expensive tabloid.
    “The New York Times: The paper that will be recorded in journalistic history.”

  5. Overthinker said

    “Japanese culture is cowardly and autistic”

    Can you expand on these ideas, especially the latter? I have never heard Japan being described as “autistic” before….

  6. Aceface said

    Everheard about what we did in Nanjing,Paul?
    Killing unarmed citizen could be counted as “cowardly”,but that’s not the way many Chinese think about us after 70 years.

    By the way,nice name for your blog.”Nippon Nigger”? Well…..

  7. bender said

    Gotta agree with Overthinker on that one: how can a culture be “cowardly” and “autistic”? Do you have to hide away?

    That vendor machine costume is hilarious. One of those products that will never make a hit.

  8. doinkies said

    I wonder if he was thinking of 引きこもり when he made that comment.

    He’s made several other…lovely comments in the past, like “Non-Japanese may take silly pictures of Japan’s equally silly religious icons, but at least they don’t go to elementary schools and stab children to death” and calling all of the culture “creepy”. I wonder if he’ll call Japan “Moonland” next. -_-

    And yeah, what a classy title for his blog, putting a racial slur in it…

  9. Gray Lady Down

    When Tony Said recently “the days of the old-fashioned newsroom are over”, he didn’t know the half of it!RELIABLE SOURCES have informed this website that the American newspaper, The New York Times, passed away on October 20 at the age…

  10. ghoti said

    Nice blog you’ve built here. And better, you got linked to by the great Tim Blair.

  11. lonetown said

    Very good satire and thank you for reminding me of the absurd poll.

  12. ampontan said

    Ghoti: Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. Glad you liked it! There’s an article on China you might find interesting two posts down from this one.

    Thanks also for telling me about the Tim Blair link. Sometimes, the e-mail notification of a link doesn’t come through, and this one didn’t either!

  13. […] Read it. Another job Americans won’t do. […]

  14. JR said

    Well done!!!

    Those of us in Manhattan who actually bother to use 10% of our gray matter realize that the “Gray Lady” has long ago hit menopause and acts out with each heat flash of agenda driven drivel.

    On a side note, I bought one of those camoflage soda machines and was blinded in my right eye when someone stuck a coin through the false slot. Luckily, I have my left eye…and a brand new shiney quarter.

    Again, nicely done…very much enjoyed.

  15. Pinch Me Sultzberger said

    Is this a Japanese blog for real?

    I guess I don’t understand why folks outside of Manhattan (much less the U.S.) would be aware of what get’s printed in the Old Gray Lady, but I’m sooo glad you are!

    I’m here thanks to the Ozmeister, Tim Blair, but this post definitely needs a link from someone closer to the morgue.

    A question from someone none too familiar with Japanese culture – is there any chance the NYT has restored some semblance of honor by committing this form of suicide?


  16. ampontan said

    PMS: Thank you!

    It is most definitely a Japan site. Check About, the other posts down the page, and the post I’ll be putting up later today.

    I posted on the Times story because it was about Japan.

    As for suicide–the hara-kiri ritual would seem to be in order, wouldn’t it?

  17. Overthinker said

    Okay, who is Tim Blair? Tony’s cousin?

    I actually look at the NYT quite often, despite being neither in the US or even American. Compared to my hometown paper, it’s a paragon of journalistic excellence. Hey, at least it can (usually) spell correctly…. Also it’s free and quite comprehensive. Plus the recent opening of the Archives provides an invaluable resource. However I tend to take anything Norimitsu Onishi writes with a grain of salt.

    And no, to be honourable, a suicide must be noble and dignified. This article is neither.

  18. ampontan said

    Overthinker: Ask and ye shall receive…

  19. Overthinker said

    Thanks. In that case, I guess this isn’t a “Japanese” blog as is it not run by a Japanese person, so the discussion on the NYT cannot be said to be by “the Japanese”. Well, apart from Aceface’s contributions perhaps….

  20. Aceface said

    There ya go,Overthinker.

    I’ve got nothing against NYT myself either.One of the reporters even covered me back in the 80’s when I was in Japanese weekend school in New York.But then again that was then and this is now…..

  21. ampontan said

    Dang, Aceface, you get around. What surprises me is that some people there thought that wasn’t a serious article.

  22. Aceface said

    “While Tsukioka’s explanation for why she came up with the vending machine dress is no doubt tongue-in-cheek, there’s also a tongue-in-cheek quality to the NYT article: the author isn’t saying that vending machine dress is the ONLY example of how Japanese people are protecting themselves against crime, but he is instead saying that it is an extreme, humorous example of a general tendency.”

    The Keyword here is “Tongue in Cheek” and “humorous example of a general tendency”.

    So they are in this bright man’s blog.

    I thought the blog is good,actually.

  23. ampontan said

    Aceface: If that’s what the NY Times author is saying, he sure fooled a lot of people. (Including the guy at the Saga Shimbun, a foreigner who is clever enough to have published English fiction.)

    Which blog did you like, the second one?

    “Every blog about Japan – and there are too many to count – reveals a dossier of prejudices that the author either held already or nurtured during that vital first year in the country.”

    Well, not every one (g).

    I also don’t fit into his 10 categories of Japan blog.

  24. Aceface said

    “Which blog did you like, the second one?”

    Actually I like both.Because their contents are all original and they understand the language.Not that I agree with every opinion they have,but one must admits that you get to learn one or two things about this country through their foreign eyes.

  25. TeaPotInATempest said

    Good stuff here – just found the site and very impressed, esp. considering it’s fairly new. Keep up the good work!

  26. […] The New York Times (1851-2007): R.I.P. « AMPONTAN RELIABLE SOURCES have informed this website that the American newspaper, The New York Times, passed away on October 20 at the age of 156. The same sources indicate that despite initial reports attributing the cause of death to chronic jaundice, the coroner’s report is expected to state the once-proud media outlet, formerly referred to as “the newspaper of record” by people who should have known better, died of self-inflicted wounds. […]

  27. So disappointing

    The story I linked to about Japanese clothing doubling as a disguise to escape criminals (including disguising oneself as a Coke machine!) turns out to have been a case of bad journalism on the part of the New York Times.

  28. Aceface said

    Seemingly the guy seems to face some problem.
    A: Just when it started to become apparent to people in Japan last year that the Hatoyama administration wasn’t going to take on Kasumigaseki, with articles appearing everywhere in Japan that they were caving in and backtracking on their promises, Fackler wrote a piece in that newspaper talking about how Hatoyama was challenging the bureaucracy.

    I have a hard time even reading this stuff any more.

    – A.

  29. M-Bone said

    The comeback by the regional editor there is a joke – sure Japan is an “afterthought” when it comes to considering the economy overtaking the US, but is that really any way to think about a close ally? Japan certainly wasn’t an afterthought when Bush’s crew went, hat in hand, for money for Iraq. Without Japan, the UN couldn’t even afford to keep the lights on. I thought the days of the US (and especially progressives like the NYT crew) pigeonholing countries as either “enemy” or “insignificant” were supposed to be over.

    Seriously, if US allies with growth and structural problems (Japan, UK, Germany) up and moved to Mars or got sucked into a void, the current world order wouldn’t last a week.

  30. Aceface said

    Yeah,but it’s good to know about “honne”from our supposed to be the only ally in the world and how reliable they can actually be.It strengthened my belief that the alliance is not sustainable in the time of rising China.
    Personally,the said NYT piece wasn’t any different from 600 other “Japocalypse Now”pieces you’ve been reading in the past fifteen years.What I don’t understand is no one at the fact checking department had no interest on the “wearble bending machine” which is a blatant lie.

    Those who are interested may also find it interesting to read Clyde”I-hardly-go-to-Japan-and-now-learning-Chinese”Prestowitz had written for Foreign Policy.
    Thing is, though, the NYT represents what used to be the Ruling Class, particularly the Democrat side of it. The brand, however, has been debased, as has the ruling class. Those people no longer have the influence they once had, though it’s hard to see from Japan. Here’s another example: Newsweek just got sold for a dollar, but the Japanese media still takes them more seriously than most people in the US at this point.

  31. M-Bone said

    “It strengthened my belief that the alliance is not sustainable in the time of rising China.”

    I think it might be sustainable, or strengthened, with Republican control of government and a shift to the right in the public sphere. This might be exactly what we’re seeing.

  32. Aceface said

    Newsweek has extensively using articles from online mags like SLATE and GLOBALPOST.The latter’s Japan coverage makes you feel like Japan Times is a quality paper with so much insight.
    You see,I work for media,and a big one.So seeing established names like NYT or Newsweek losing influence make me worry for numbers of reasons.So who’s going to replace the vacuum,FOX news and talk radio?

    If the Obama and Kan can’t fix the alliance,I doubt the LDP and Republicans can fix them either.There will be much more political polarization on both sides of pacific over defense issues starting from Futennma to Afghanistan.

    You see, I work for media,and a big one.So seeing established names like NYT or Newsweek losing influence make me worry for numbers of reasons.

    The big media are losing their influence not because they are big media, but because of their behavior. Had they behaved differently, they wouldn’t have any problems. As you will see in my next post.

    Newsweek not only has a serious behavior problem, but the problem of being a weekly newsmagazine in the Internet age. That’s not going to work in America any more. Weekly magazines are in a different environment in Japan, so the issues are different.

    So who’s going to replace the vacuum,FOX news and talk radio?

    Among others. The situation is still in flux, and it’s not clear what happens next.

    What is clear is that the present situation exists because the mainstream media outlets became an intolerable monopoly. Whenever an American complains about Fox News (which I’ve still never seen, except excerpts on YouTube), that’s a big signal to me to ignore them. Their complaints may be valid, but Fox News exists only because CBS, NBC, ABC, and later CNN were so biased on the other side for several decades that some balance was required. But the people now complaining about Fox News never had any problem with those other outlets before, despite those outlets being just as bad, and often worse. The complaint boils down to this: It’s their ox that’s getting gored now.

    I could be mistaken, but I think CBS, NBC, and ABC all still have higher ratings than Fox, BTW, though Fox does have significantly higher ratings than CNN and MSNBC. Interestingly, a Pew poll shows that Fox has the most diverse audience of the cable news networks. They have a higher percentage of self-identified Democratic viewers than the others have self-identified Republican viewers.

    – A

  33. Aceface said

    The latest Japan coverage in classical “Only-in-Japan”genre.

  34. Roual Deetlefs said

    I am quoting from this article in The Telegraph .

    The White House’s extraordinary assault on the Fox News Channel will end in tears – and not for Rupert Murdoch, Fox’s owner. The Obama administration has embarked on a high-risk strategy of shooting the messenger, in effect blaming its plummeting poll ratings on alleged political bias at the number one 24-hour cable news network. As Anita Dunn, the Mao-quoting White House communications director put it in an interview with The New York Times:

    “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent. As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

    and the reason is because :

    Fox News is succeeding in America precisely because it is not afraid to challenge the status quo, and to take on the power of big government. It is unique in broadcast media in going against the grain of the dominant liberal networks, NBC, CBS and ABC, by providing an alternative perspective in a nation where conservatives are still the largest ideological group according to Gallup.

    And this is confirmed by this article in The Guardian :

    CNN, the US-based 24-hour news channel, is in crisis reports Stephen Foley in The Independent. US viewers have been switching in their thousands to Rupert Murdoch’s controversial right-wing channel, Fox News.

    As it nears its 30th anniversary in June it is estimated to have lost almost half its prime-time viewers in the past year while Fox News has galloped further ahead in the ratings.

    When CNN’s CEO was quizzed about this state of affairs, he had this to say :

    At the two-day Bloomberg BusinessWeek media summit in New York, CNN president Jon Klein had a Q&A with BusinessWeek editor Josh Tyrangiel. 

    Asked about the competition with Fox News, Klein answered: “The competition I’m really afraid of is social nets. We want to be the most trusted source. But on Facebook, people are depending on their friends as news sources.

    “I’m more worried about the 500 million or so people on Facebook versus the 2 million on Fox,” said the CNN president.

    In terms of the cable news wars, though, Klein also pointed out that CNN has just had its most profitable year. Klein rattled off figures that he claimed to show CNN has 10% more viewers than Fox News, though he conceded that Fox News viewers tend to watch longer than CNN viewers do.

    Furthermore the CNN president talked about the magic – and often illusory – word “synergy”. 

    And this is how one South African tourist described the media scene in the US :

    TV is here… but TV is heading for the Internet. TV will no doubt remain for Internet access and for entertainment, but the days of TV as a monopolistic Liberal propaganda machine with global reach is fading. Larry King is fading away… Oprah Winfrey is slowly fading away… Judge Judy has higher ratings than Oprah. TV is for games, for entertainment, for documentaries… but TV as the monopolistic Liberal/Left medium – is finished.

    In America, anyone can have his own radio show. You can run your own radio station from home. In America there are as many radio stations and shows as there are websites. Jeff Rense said to me that you will get a guy who has a “radio show” with an audience of 3 – his father, his mother and his aunt!! Radio shows are prolific here.

    When I drive I just hit the scan button. I don’t even tune into a radio station and remember it like I did in South Africa. You don’t remember “702” or “Highveld”. You just don’t care. You hit scan, listen for a few seconds and move on. For example, if I hit scan and I hear someone talking or an advert, I just ignore it until I hear MUSIC. when I hear music, I like I listen. If it does not suit me I hit scan again.

    And later in the same post :

    In America Fox news is killing. CNBC, NBC, ABC, CNN, etc were all doing the Liberal thing. The majority of Americans want to hear something other than the Liberal spin. They are sick to death of the Liberal spin that has been going on for the last 50 years… and Fox has more viewers now than all the others put together.

    In America, anyone can express himself from his home. Clearly this is where we will see some real talent coming out. There is going to be intense competition against the corporations and “the party line”.

    And this malaise in the mainstream media was anticipated by Ed Murrow in a speech he made in the year of 1958 :

    Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. I invite your attention to the television schedules of all networks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., Eastern Time. Here you will find only fleeting and spasmodic reference to the fact that this nation is in mortal danger. There are, it is true, occasional informative programs presented in that intellectual ghetto on Sunday afternoons. But during the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: LOOK NOW, PAY LATER.

    For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally. If there were to be a competition in indifference, or perhaps in insulation from reality, then Nero and his fiddle, Chamberlain and his umbrella, could not find a place on an early afternoon sustaining show. If Hollywood were to run out of Indians, the program schedules would be mangled beyond all recognition. Then some courageous soul with a small budget might be able to do a documentary telling what, in fact, we have done–and are still doing–to the Indians in this country. But that would be unpleasant. And we must at all costs shield the sensitive citizens from anything that is unpleasant.

    If only what Raymond Chandler said about a private detective then, could be said about a journalist today :

    ”…down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.

    “He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him.

    “The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.”

    RD: One factor that is seldom mentioned by CNN in their ratings is that they seem to be the default station in airport waiting lounges. (I don’t know for sure, because I haven’t been in an American airport in nine years.) But that’s what I’m reading elsewhere.

    There is a movement in Japan to open up accessibility to the broadcast frequencies to more people, though I haven’t been paying close attention. One of those who frequently writes on the subject is Ikeda Nobuo. Perhaps access to the means of production (for want of a better term) is a problem in Japan. If anyone has recommendations for links or books, please pass them on.

    – A.

  35. M-Bone said

    Can’t talk about Fox News without mentioning the 1200 pound gorilla in the room. For every well-articulated argument for fiscal conservativism on the channel there is an example of someone arguing against the separation of church and state or the “I can see Russia from my house!” idea of foreign policy. That’s the scary thing about Fox News, the Tea Party, and a decent chunk of the Republican Party – there is a certain type of American conservative who would vote for Five Year Plans if it were wrapped in the right kind of moral stance or if the alternative candidate was an atheist or committed to expanding abortion access.
    As far as the Tea Parties–it rightfully belongs in the plural and not the singular–it is clear to most observers in America that the movement is neither dominated nor driven by social/religious conservatives, regardless of those of any of the wings who wish it to be otherwise.

    BTW, the only person who said they could see Russia from their house was Tina Fey.

    – A.

  36. Aceface said

    Speak of tea party and comedian,what do you think of the recent two mass rally at DC were both organized by media hipsters like Glen Beck and Stephen Colvert/John Stewart?
    Those who speak of”decline of the big media”simply forgets one thing.People consume media more than ever before.They just don’t want to pay for it,hence the decline as the corporate body,but not the influence.
    The consumption takes different forms. In the past, people would read a newspaper cover to cover because it was all they had. Now they just link to articles they like, or just as often dislike, and ignore the rest. Some in the media like to think they’re getting more “eyeballs” than ever before, however.

    Except the MSM broadcast media is clearly not being consumed as often as before.

    – A.

  37. M-Bone said

    “the only person who said they could see Russia from their house was Tina Fey”

    I know, I was too lazy to Google – “As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.” Cited, I should add, as an example of her “foreign policy experience”. Am I the only one who pictures a Superman like Putin soaring over Alaska?

    “it is clear to most observers in America that the movement is neither dominated nor driven by social/religious conservatives”

    They may yet see Palin run for president.

    Here is the danger – if you are a middle ground fiscal conservative Republican you could now be forced to tout social/religious conservative credentials more strongly in order to court people on the fence. While the religious right may not be flat out driving the Tea Party(ies), there are few people involved in the movement who are interested in consistently taking them on in public. As long as fiscal conservatives cannot shed their relationship with people who want a small government but one that is bricking up abortion clinics and handing out bibles in schools, we won’t see a balanced budget in the United States as they will continue to alienate moderates who would otherwise be open to economic arguments. America has the most vital small government voices in the world, but it is Canada that has seen balanced budgets and a comparatively modest stimulus, as well as the successful rallying of the mainstream behind some ambitious privatization and government cutbacks in the last 5 years while the US went straight from rightwing populism to left, in presidential elections anyway.

  38. Aceface said

    “Now they just link to articles they like, or just as often dislike, and ignore the rest.”

    No argument on that,but that comes with the result in the form of political polarization as you see now in states or seen in Korea a few years back.

  39. Aceface said

    Just picked this up from NBR Japan-US forum.(yikes)

    Maybe one of Fackler’s problems is that he virtually never shows up at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, where he he could get a reality check from such savvy veterans as Andrew Horvat, Gregory Clark, Sam Jameson,

    Bob Neff

    OK.Let’s be fair with Fackler.
    One.He gets a point from me for NOT waste his time with zombies at FCCJ sushi bar.
    Two,What wrong does a man need to do to have him get a “reality check”from a guy like Gregory Clark!
    Good one, particularly about Gregory Clark.

    – A.

  40. M-Bone said

    Still, you have to admire the way Clark goes to the FCCJ sushi club riding a war panda.

  41. Aceface said

    His arch enemy and a dragonslayer from Sankei,Komori Yoshihisa is now visiting prof at his university.I’d imagine Clark has a lot to mumble both at the sushi bar and internet forum.

  42. M-Bone said

    He’s more of a dragon poker. It pays the bills, I’m sure, but does he really have a clue what to do with the dragon? Being righteously angry isn’t an argument.

    In any case, I imagine that Clark, like other lecture tour guys, aren’t genuinely pissed at the other side of the debate so much as grateful for the endless parade of straw men.

  43. Aceface said

    I’m sure Komori and others have no idea what to do with China,but that’s not the issue here.What they have in mind is to see Japan standing up on two feet,and they’d rather fight for it instead of watch the country turning into a boiled frog.

  44. M-Bone said

    And that’s the problem with the Japanese right today – they don’t know how to spin it for the masses like Koizumi or to a lesser extent, Nakasone or Tanaka, did – as long as Komori is writing like Kobunyu light, he’ll keep on selling some books, but he won’t change any minds.

    Did you happen to see Funabashi’s “I’m fed up with China” piece in the Asahi? The time is ripe for consensus building on the pragmatics of national security, but Komori and others like him have long since linked defense of people and property to things like – comments about diaspora Chinese that sound like a Jew conspiracy, arguments about defending Japan’s reputation on WWII issues (saying nothing is better than conservatives have handled it), gleeful predictions about China’s coming collapse without taking into account that that would likely shave 10% off Japan’s GDP in the medium term, etc. My main beef with these guys is that they can’t simply put forward a defense plan, it always ends up linked with all sorts of ethno-mythical nonsense. Tamogami may be an extreme case, but how does he expect to win support for his fairly realistic and pragmatic ideas about maritime security when he’s mixing them with zingers denying the Nanking massacre (it COULDN’T have happened because Japanese aren’t like that), saying that women should be barefoot and pregnant for the good of the nation (and it will leave more jobs for the men!), and even books about how we should beat kids to give them a dose of the Japanese spirit? They need to shelve this divisive fist-pumping and move forward on defense in a language of international cooperation that the mainstream is likely to get behind. The rachi issue heightened emotion, but didn’t result in a mandate for changing Japan’s defense orientation. Now that’s pretty much over. Something drastically different needs to be tried, but I think conservatives like Komori are still locked into a top down national project model where they really need to look to Koizumi (or 90s Ozawa) for points like electioneering, consensus building, and and how to phrase defense / military issues in a way that is compatible with mass norms and values, and to replicate those points in their writing.

  45. Aceface said

    “Did you happen to see Funabashi’s “I’m fed up with China” piece in the Asahi? ”

    Yep.This is from two years ago,but might find interested reading on Asahi’s China report.

    I remember the fiasco over Senkaku back in 97 and 2004 and our office tried not to make the issue and lowered the priority in the news for the sake of Sino-Japanese relations.That strain has now completely gone.

  46. ampontan said

    M-Bone: That faction of which you speak has a desperate, crying need for someone like William Buckley.

    Before I explain why, I’ll state that I was never a big fan of his, his style, his writing, or some of his ideas. (He took much too long to figure out civil rights, for one thing.)

    But he did everyone on his side a big favor when he created a gathering place/paradigm for conservatives while pointedly eliminating the John Birchers and those types.

    That is exactly what the Japanese right needs today.

    (The left worldwide could use their own equivalent too, but they’re not looking hard.)

    …too much paying work, not enough time for posting.

  47. M-Bone said

    Ace – I think that the shift that took place in the Asahi was more of a coming in line with “Global” norms of China reporting – ie. more human rights stories, which fits precisely with the Asahi’s domestic framework anyway. During the Olympics, I remember that Funabashi’s pieces and the major editorials at the beginning and ending of the games stated clearly that Beijing 2008 was the same “path” as Tokyo 1964 and Seoul 1988. Saying this and still poking Beijing on human rights issues in the same way that the NYT and other papers of a roughly similar social place do doesn’t seem like a contradiction to me.

    In any case, even the JCP are pissed at China over Senkaku these days so there is nothing odd about a bit of (well justified) bashing over that either. You are right, it isn’t just the Asahi – Senkaku 2010 has turning point written all over it. Figuring out “turning point to what” is the hard part.

    Ampontan – “That is exactly what the Japanese right needs today”

    The way I see it, it looks like there is a certain core of rightwing pundits trying to one up each other and say more and more extreme things (ie. Koizumi is a “race traitor”); as a group, they never got over the history hangup (all of the resources and effort that went into useless textbooks that no students read and that were watered down anyway could have been better spent wooing the silent majority and building a consensus with big business – who opposed Yasukuni visits, controversial textbooks, and all of that stuff the pundits have been blowing hard about for nearly 20 years now); their hits have all been nonsense like Kokka no Hinkaku, which is most open to being read as a feel-good Bushido group stroke fest rather than a real political or strategic direction (and of course Japan is “totesumonai” and “utsukushii” we &#’$ing get it).

    Globally, progressives have had more success packaging coherent messages than Japanese conservatives – Michael Moore might be a joke, but he changes minds; Dawkins and Hitchens (he’s still a progressive….) have been widely read on religion; Chomsky was on bestseller lists when the liberal networks were crawling all over each other to cram as many flags on camera as they could or to find the next Scud Stud, etc. I think that you could make a strong case that Obama got such a good part of the youth vote in 2008 because of a sympathetic pop culture enviornment.

    In a way, however, Japanese conservatives are forced to be extreme because of the uphill battle that they face – either with or without a continued alliance with the US, nukes are the magic bullet to ensure a “healthy” stalemate against China. I don’t favor them myself, but I see the logic. I really don’t see anyone actually selling that solution (or constitutional revision) to the Japanese public, however, barring some unpredictable outrageous happening.

  48. Aceface said

    From CNN’s Kyng Lah.Very Kyng Lah-ish.

  49. Aceface said

    The most recent

  50. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a
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