Politics & Policy

Flying High


Today I leave for my vacation. I am so pumped up on penicillin and Viagra that when I sweat it makes the room smell like a pharmacy in Bangkok or the Oval Office.

Just kidding. Actually I am going to Italy with the little lady. I hope that when we get back after all that pasta she will still be “little” and I will still be able to scratch without having to use an unbent wire hanger.

But before I go on writing things I will have to apologize for later, I must first apologize for the downtime at National Review Online. This was the result of several factors. Most of them are irrelevant or classified because they deal with my own failings. And since these are the last days of the Clinton years (or is it the last year of Clinton’s days? Whatever), we should honor him by pointing the accusing finger at somebody else. Who should it be? “Wall Street interests”? The illuminati? Ah, I know, my glue-hound Webmaster. It turns out he went on an epoxy-induced vision quest to the West coast and the laptop he brought couldn’t run a game of Tetris, let alone manage the gazillions of megawatts of power required to keep NRO afloat. My apologies. He will be beaten, of course, and we will try to make amends.

Still, there are more apologies required. My grand plans for accumulating a huge stack of evergreen Goldberg Files that I could leave behind like a twelve-pack of airplane glue for the Webmaster, have come to naught. I have no reserve supply.

So, in the interest of keeping my obligation to G-File readers, I will try to keep filing. But I will require your patience and understanding, attributes many of you do not display when I am negligent in my responsibilities. Your loyalty is very flattering but I also want to enjoy my vacation without the fear that I will a have burning bag of cyber dog droppings in my e-mail box for every day I don’t file. Add to this the fact that the only way I will be able to afford this trip is if I come back one kidney lighter, I don’t need any more tension. So this will require good faith on everybody’s part but my own. I will try to get away with doing the least possible amount of work and you will try to accept it. I can’t imagine that will be hard. If you’re inclined to do me a favor you could get hooked on the other cool stuff NR Online has to offer (snail editor Rich Lowry will be manning my hi-tech ship while I am gone).

In the meantime I suppose I should include a modicum of substance in this otherwise onanistic adventure in self-indulgence. Without wanting to jinx anything (after all, there’s a Boeing 767 with my name on it at JFK right now), I suppose I should address this Egypt Air crash.

Anything that kills lots of people is bad. Plane crashes clearly fall into this category. But so do bus crashes, train crashes, and typhoons that go though Bangladesh like Bill Clinton through a plate of hot wings. The media’s infatuation with plane crashes is as disturbing as it is mysterious. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a visual medium and all that. But do we really need three round-the-clock news networks dedicating themselves to this constant, maudlin coverage? TV people who call themselves equals to print journalists should take note; If a newspaper article on a plane crash included the drivel that regularly comes out of the mouths of broadcasters, it would be a scandal.

“Bob, do you have anything new to report?”

“Yes, John, the Coast Card has announced they will continue the search until they are confident there are no survivors.”

“Okay, Bob, thank you for that important update. Please keep us posted if you receive any more late-breaking news.”

It is especially annoying because so much of the reporting is piss poor. We get hours on the lives of the people who died in the crash, as if dying in a plane is more noble than dying in a mugging. Obviously, these were good and nice people — most normal people are. But I doubt very much that this consoles the families very much. After all, don’t you think they have enough stress right now?

Back to the point. The reporting is bad — the audience gets drenched in talk of “survivors” and how there is “still hope.” I’ve followed these crashes as much as the next guy. Are there ever any survivors? I don’t think so. Sure, people have walked away from forced landings and the like. But I don’t recall anyone ever surviving crashes when the plane plummets from the sky into the ocean. In fact — and I might be wrong — I don’t think anyone survives passenger-jet crashes when the plane lands nose first. Even if there has been an exception, the networks all herd up to say there’s hope. It may be the nice thing to do, but even after a couple days — when the families have all been notified — you’d think we could get the truth.

What is mysterious to me is that these networks feel a need to report this drek. Wouldn’t at least one network say, “Well, Fox and MSNBC have this covered, why don’t we offer news for all of the people who have had enough?”

Now, of course, this diatribe will having me knocking wood at 40,000 feet in a couple of hours.


It was pointed out to me by my brother, of all people, that What’s That From? [Link defunct] says it is a quiz on movie and TV quotes. And yet they’ve all been movies. He, as is his wont, was annoyingly correct. So in honor of my brother Josh — all quotes for the next two weeks will be TV quotes. One caveat: TV quotes are often a little harder to check for precise wording, so there may be a small error from time to time, but certainly nothing that would throw off anybody from guessing correctly.

So, as the Italians say, “goodbye” (except they say it in Italian).


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