Wrapup: I did two columns about the Skip Gates affair this week, God help me. The first one is my “Think Again column.” It’s called “Why Does BarackObama Hate America? (Hint: Blame ACORN)” and it’shere.

Then there’s my Nation column, which is called, “Class, not ‘Race,’ withwhich I imagine most Nation readers will strongly disagree and that’shere.That’s all for now. Here’s Pierce, et al:

Charles Pierce
Newton, MA.

Hey Doc:
“My door knob keeps on turnin’, must be spooks around my bed/Ihave a warm, old feelin’, and the hair risin’ on my head.

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “Standin’ In Your Stuff” (ZigaboMudslide)–You know, I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts–and I can proveit!–but it’s New Orleans that I love.

Short Takes:

Part The First: Let’s all not get too giddy with this. The only reasons some of the clowns are distancing themselves from some of the other clowns in the little red car is that this stuff isn’t working. Yet. I guarantee you, if this nonsense ever starts showing a little traction, and I think it’s no longer a shot than 60-40 that it will, these people will be furrowing their brows as best they can–Coulter seems to be having her Botox applied by the Borglum family these days–and “cover the controversy.” And, if it doesn’t, it will be a regular talking-point about how these Very Serious People are so Very Different from the mouthbreathing wing of their party. Call me Kreskin.

Part The Second: With Parson Meacham in charge, you can apparentlysell Newsweek anything. I look forward to my next trip to NYC so I can see how the aluminum siding onthe building looks.

Part The Third: I think we need a few more earnest, serious paneldiscussions among elite journalists about what a force this clown is in our national politics. Also; “merciless rivers”?

Part The Fourth: The cats ‘n kittens at Ye Olde House Of Mulch ForBrains started off the week strongly, didn’t they? Hey, dudes. The birther nonsense is exactly no different in its essential crackpottery from a lot of what those around the GOP leadership like to call “position papers.” Also, sorry. You’ve been cheated. You can’t buy the Brooklynbridge. Someone sold it to Meacham last week. Just ask him.

Part The Last: Hey. CNN? Why is this race-baiting homunculus even on contract?

After the political and moral catastrophe that was the Schiavocircus — which you can read about in at least one book I know of, BTW — I thought the one thing that conservatives and/or Republicans would decline ever to do was screw around with end-of-life issues again.Turns out Iwas wrong. Now, we are hearing that the evil Obama health-care sonderkommando is going to be prowling the landscape, seeking out Grandmas to kill. As someone with too intimate a knowledge of Alzheimer’s Disease — wherein these issues come to something of a fine point — can I just say that thesefolks have combined the political wisdom of a tackhammer with the moral sensitivity of a Gaboon viper. I honestly hope at least one of them has the indescribably horrible experience of finding out just what a viciously inhumane ethical cipher you have to be to try and score points with thisargument. Some people just suck.

The mail:

Name: Steve Milligan
Hometown: Colorado Springs CO

Dr. Alterman,

I think your analysis is spot on in that class would be a much more empowering lens to view many of these types of events than race. As you have said before, even affirmative action would be more palatable if it were class based rather than race based, and it would end up helping the same people. The problem is that the right wing, assisted by the MSM, have turned any attempt at a class analysis into a toxic venture. Joan Walsh mentioned it the other night on TV, and Chris Matthews referred to it as a “Marxist” analysis. The only time class can be mentioned on the MSM is in the context of asking the upper one percent of income earners to pay a bit more in taxes. Then it’s “class” warfare. The invective hurled in race based discussions turns them into futile endeavors. Martin Luther King had similar ideas at the end of his life. That was before his pacifism and social justice orientation were extirpated and he was put on the window of McDonalds and honored in Armed Forces breakfasts.

Carry on.

Name: Michael Green
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Dr. A., I am a Nation reader who doesn’t disagree with your take, though I would like to add to it.

Consider the criticisms of President Obama. Would any of those critics say of a white president that he dislikes black people? I don’t even recall African American critics saying that Ronald Reagan, whose civil rights policies were designed to turn the clock back to sometime before the Civil War, actually hated blacks.

So, what if it had been a black officer and a white homeowner? Or some other configuration of races? Would we have a different debate?

Also, I share your admiration for Professor Gates. But when his response is that he will do a documentary on this subject, he unfortunately ends up looking like someone out for publicity, or even with a chip on his shoulder. Truthfully, if the right-wing and mainstream media (and the twain too often meets) weren’t so eager to make Obama look bad, they would have spent more time focusing on Gates.

Name: Merrill R. Frank
Hometown: Gates, law enforcement and the rights reaction

Will someone have the sense to please call out the same folks (Rush etc.) who spent a better part of the 1990’s weaving an anti- government narrative and chanting the mantra Ruby Ridge, Waco, Elian Gonzalez with visions of “ATF Jack Booted thugs”, UN blue helmets on US soil and black helicopters in their heads. Now all of a sudden they are law enforcement’s best buds when it comes to a stupid misunderstanding at an esteemed college professor’s home. Obviously the bashing of college professors (See-Horowitz, David) especially the Ivy League variety and so-called elites was always a part of their narrative as well.

Name: Terry
Hometown: Cheyenne

Re: Paul. No comment, except I love him forever. There’s good rockin’ at 67.

Re: Doo Wah Diddy Diddy. I’m glad this works for rock-loving people. I hated it the minute I heard it, and I was there the first time around.

Rock can be many things; fun, profound, exciting. It can cause epiphanies and change in the world. Or it can be stupid, as in above song. I once nearly came to blows with a grocery clerk who wanted to credit Van Morrison with that song as it played over the MUZAK. My favorite thing about rock has always been the sense of freedom and exhiliration it brings me. But I promise I never wish to claim Doo Wah Diddy Diddy as a memorable such two minutes. I think it’s worse than Obla Di, Obla Da, and there are not many fans of that particular Beatles’ song. Yuck.

Nobody’s perfect, Eric, but you nearly are.

Name: Becky Martz
Hometown: Cambridge, MA

I miss the Altercation book club, so I would like to recommend a book I’m reading. The book is The Great War for Civilization, by Robert Fisk. The subtitle is The Conquest of the Middle East.

Robert Fisk is a British journalist who’s based in Beirut and has been covering wars in the Middle East for several decades. He is one of the few western journalists to interview Osama bin Laden.

I haven’t finished the book yet (I’m only 400 pages in and the book is over 1,000 pages long) but I feel that an alternative subtitle could be “Everything you really wanted to know about the Middle East since 1979 but you were afraid (very afraid) to ask.”

Fisk pulls no punches. He is willing to hold everyone accountable for their deeds (Russians, Afghans, Americans, Brits, Iraqis, Iranians, Israelis, Palestinians etc)

He opens with his initial meeting of bin Laden (long before the man was considered a terrorist) and then moves on to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian revolution and the Iran Iraq war.

He attended press conferences of the powers-that-be and can tell you exactly how Ayatollah Khomeini or Saddam Hussein looked at a particular moment–his gift for description of characters is Dickensian. But the book is not confined to press conferences held by politicians. He also quotes the men and women in the bazaars and the militant parties involved in conflicts be they Palestinians, Russian soldiers, Afghans, Iranians or Israelis.

The result is that it’s clear that all parties have blood on their hands but yet all parties are humanized. And it’s also clear that while there is blood on the hands of all parties some parties have their fingers on the scales when “peace” is discussed.

He also has some great, heart-in-mouth stories to tell (some of them even turn out well–one of them is even funny) combined with a history of western involvement in the Middle East stretching back to World War I.

I strongly recommend this book for Altercators. I would be curious what Bob Bateman’s assessment of the book is, given his position as military historian and as a man who has actually served in the Middle East.