In Praise of Alan Abelson


I hate to admit it, but I subscribe to Barron's. Gotta keep up with what they're thinking. And I do have a very soft spot for Alan Abelson, whose ever-cynical column fits the times like a glove.

Anyway, this week he surpassed himself. Since I suspect that people who check out this site don't get Barron's, here are his opening paragraphs:

"Having tried intelligence to win the war on terrorism and achieved mixed results - bad and worse - the defense department has decided to go the other way and give stupidity a chance.

"To effect the change required someone with proven credentials. Luckily, Rummy and cohorts didn't have far to look for just such a man - Adm. Pointyhead.

"Adm. Pointyhead runs a semi-clandestine operation within the Department of Defense known as Darpa (an acronym for Determinedly Asinine Research Projects Administration). Pointyhead - this may surprise you - isn't his real name. It's a nom de guerre (but refrain from using that phrase, as the admiral might see that you get sent to Guantanamo for consorting with an enemy language.)

"Pointyhead's bona fides for the assignment were impeccable. He's a man of notable conviction. He was, for example, convicted of lying to Congress (the conviction was annulled on the eminently just grounds that Congress, in its wisdom, had granted immunity to the admiral to lie to it.)"

Abelson gives Maureen a run for the money, doesn't he?

Originally published on the Official Paul Krugman Site, 8.3.03