Elliott Abrams holds the remarkable position—second only to Henry Kissinger perhaps—of playing a role in the undermining of democracy in three separate regions: Central America, North America and the Middle East. The fact that he thinks himself qualified to lecture the president on this very topic deserves to put him in the Chutzpah Hall of Fame, as soon as it is founded and built. Read all about it, here.

My Nation column this week is called "The Conservative Class War, Continued."

There’s a video up of my conversation at CAP on Tuesday with its COO, Neera Tanden, here.

Also this: If you’re around, please join The Nation Institute for a public conversation with Eric Alterman, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Stanley Crouch and Tom Edsall in honor of the launch of Eric Alterman’s new book, Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama, on Tuesday, February 8th at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Now take a look at this, and part II, which is actually better, here though as regards Led Zep, he’s wrong, they sued Little Roger and the Goosebumps for their classic recording of Gilligan’s Island to the tune of Stairway, which is shame, because it’s a better song.

Alter-reviews

I fear that Martin Scorsese is entering a Woody Allen phase. Gangs of New York was one of the worst movies of all time and I had no interest at all in seeing that Shutter Island thing. (Woody’s last movie was the first one I ever skipped seeing in a theater.) The Dylan documentary was great, but seriously, it’s been a while since that “genius” moniker showed up in the work.

If you are unaware as to why people love the guy’s work the way they do, the first movie you need to see is Goodfellas. The second, though many people would probably reverse this order, is Raging Bull, which, if I’m not mistaken, won a film critics poll as the best American movie of the 1970s. (I’d have picked Manhattan, alas. And while I’m starting an argument, for the 80s I’d pick Diner. For the 90s, Groundhog Day. I have to think about the 00s.) But anyway, the thing is out now in a bootiful new bluray edition, and you can find out a lot about what’s on it, and why it’s so great, here.

Its main selling points, aside from the terrific transfer and the corrected ratio for those of us who have seen it many times already are:

Three commentaries: Director Martin Scorsese and Editor Thelma Schooonmaker, cast and crew, storytellers

Four new featurettes: Marty & Bobby; Raging Bull: Reflections on a Classic; Remembering Jake; Marty on Fockers

Cathy Moriarty on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, March 27, 1981

Raging Bull: Fight Night—four-part

The Bronx Bull—Behind-the-scenes featurette

De Niro vs. La Motta—Shot-by-shot comparison in the ring

La Motta Definds Title—Vintage Newsreel Footage

Now here’s Reed:

Groundhog Day

Cue alarm clock, get up, listen to weather report and watch Fox News try to once again spin the news about the latest blizzard as proof that man-made climate change isn’t real. Just like it did last winter. And the winter before that.

Bonus déjà vu moment from yesterday: when Fox News meteorologist and serial misinformer Joe Bastardi (and no, I’m not making that name up) throws in the requisite dig at Al Gore and his patient explanation of how, in fact, heavier snowfall is directly related to man-made global warming. Here’s Bastardi’s carefully considered scientific rebuttal to Gore, offered to Fox & Friends co-host and reflexively repetitive Roger Ailes sycophant Steve Doocy:

“What it is is the atmosphere is beginning to cool, that creates more clashes. You know what this is like with those folks? I don’t mean to demean you, but Dooce, you used to wrestle. It’s like the more your opponent scores, the more points you get. The fact of the matter is these guys are sitting here—is there any answer they don’t own? Four, five years ago, we’re hearing no winters, lots of hurricanes, everything else. When the opposite happens, they say well, we’re right about that.”

To be fair, Bastardi isn’t the only one at the network stuck in this rut. Fox News science columnist Gene Koprowski apparently wants to get in on the action as well, as evidenced by the not so fair and balanced APB he put out late Tuesday night for outside sources willing to trash Gore:

“Former Vice President Al Gore told Bill O’Reilly that: ‘A rise in global temperature can create all sorts of havoc, ranging from hotter dry spells to colder winters, along with increasingly violent storms, flooding, forest fires and loss of endangered species.’ We need comments from someone who can point out the ridiculousness of his argument, even if you accept the somewhat-implausible argument.’”

This morning, Koprowski churned out the predictably muddled column, replete with lines like “bickering among scientists” and “So why can’t scientists agree?” that only serves to sow doubts and confuse readers rather than provide any real context about the true scientific consensus. For my money, I’m a bit surprised by it. Not that the science columnist at Fox News would so unabashedly carry water for the climate change deniers. After all, this is the same cable news network where Washington DC managing editor Bill Sammon penned a memo ordering all news staff to inject a false sense of controversy and ambiguity into every story on global climate change. My surprise comes from the fact that Koprowski couldn’t get anyone over at the Heartland Institute to join in this hatchet job. I mean, a quick search of the Fox News archives reveals that Heartland, with its “free market solutions” approach to environmental policy has become Koprowski’s go-to think tank when he needs someone to criticize the latest report from the IPCC or data dump from NOAA.

In fact, in the past year, either someone from Heartland or a white paper of theirs has been quoted or included in nearly every climate-related column Koprowski’s written. (For proof, go here, here, here, here, here and here.) Read these columns and a clear picture emerges, one that leaves little, if any, space for the overwhelming scientific consensus on the subject and instead launders, unchallenged, climate change skepticism from the same few sources again and again and again. (Three of his column’s headlines even feature the dubious construction, “Scientist says,” which is a tired journalistic trick only worthy of The Onion.)

Now, the innocuous-sounding Heartland is more than just a plucky little libertarian non-profit agitating for deregulation. It has a long history of functioning as a policy front group for a host of corporate and conservative donors, like Philip Morris and ExxonMobil as well as foundations run by likes of the Kochs and Scaifes. (The Union of Concerned Scientists noted Heartland’s role in helping ExxonMobil with its climate change denying efforts in this 2007 report.)

As far as assessing the current intellectual rigor of the Heartland Institute, well, the organization’s Environmental & Climate News home page does prominently include a “Featured Video” of some guy in a black wig and another one holding hockey sticks singing an awful, amateurish Monkees parody called “I’m A Denier.” (If the presence of hockey sticks as a prop seems inexplicable, the background on their symbolism to climate change skeptic can be found here.) And it’s worth pointing out that the managing editor over at Heartland’s healthcare policy site—where you can read the latest right-wing talking points about the president’s healthcare reform law—is none other than Ben Domenech. If you don’t recognize him from his Heartland bio, it’s because he left out some pertinent details, like his abrupt, disgraced departure from the Washington Post after numerous instances of his past plagiarism came to light. In defense of his serial intellectual theft, Domenech said:

“Frankly, if I had been less of a sloppy writer…this wouldn’t be a problem."

Frankly, if there were a lot less people out there willfully misinforming the the public and distorting the truth about climate change, addressing one of the most serious issues facing our country and our world wouldn’t be a problem. But if we don’t do something, here’s a prediction, courtesy of Groundhog Day, of what that world will look like.

The Mail:

Stephen Carver
Los Angeles
Re: Dreyfuss

While I sometimes agree with Robert Dreyfuss’s points, I have always considered him to be something of a blowhard. Well done take down, sir. 

David Drasin
West Lafayette IN
Concerning your Slacker Friday column last week (I have read you for many years, and in many ways am unhappy that your list of good internet sites has absorbed so much of my time).

You refer to the criticism that the "President’s statement about “strengthening Social Security for future generations." Here, the AP’s counterpoint suddenly veers off on this non sequitur: “THE FACTS: With that comment, Obama missed another chance to embrace the tough medicine proposed by the commission for bringing down the deficit.” Um, no he didn’t, because…

It seems another important response to that is that there was no ‘Commission Report’ since there was no consensus position which the required number of members would support.

But all your points are fine, too.

Thanks for your work, and now that I am semi-retired, maybe I won’t complain about too many good blogs.

Eric replies: Thanks, but that was Reed, not yours truly.

Andrew Milner
Bryn Mawr, PA
For all the gossip about Marty Peretz’s sexuality, the nugget from the NYTimes profile which has been largely ignored is Peretz’s testifying on behalf of Stephen Glass before the California bar. Thirteen years after Glass permanently stained TNR, its honcho is still bowing and scraping before him. Meanwhile, Gary Webb made a few relatively venial errors in his CIA-crack cocaine story of the mid-1990s, and the entire industry blackballed him and drove him to suicide.

"By the way, the ex Mrs. Peretz is not, as is reported everywhere, an heiress to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune. She is an heirless (sic) to one of the lawyers for Singer, who, apparently, shared in the wealth of one of its key patents."

That would make Anne Peretz a member of the Clark family, the local gentry of Cooperstown, NY, who have overseen the creation and development of the Baseball Hall of Fame. They also own the Dakota Apartments in NYC.

Eric replies: Excellent points all, and you are correct, she is a Clark, though I did not know the rest of the information about the family you provide. And insofar as it matters, Christopher always used to say tell this story with the third love of Marty’s life being Gene McCarthy. Still I feel uneasy about this stuff. The only point that makes sexuality pertinent in this context is that fact that were it not for his marriage to Anne Peretz, none of us would ever have heard of the guy (though perhaps he would have found yet another heiress…)

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