Wrapup: I’ve got a new Think Again column called “Ted Kennedy, inSubstance” which deals with the personalistic, rather than substantivecoverage of the senator’s life and career, as well as some of those thatdid. That’s here.

Also, I’ve got a new Moment column called “Hiding Truths from theGoyim–and Ourselves,” here. I see they start sorta similarly…

Now here’s the man:

CHARLES PIERCE
NEWTON, MA

Hey Doc:

“I found out my downfall, from nineteen and thirty/I’m tellin’ allof my friends, I’m not fattenin’ no more frogs for snakes.”

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “Boogie Disease” (Doc Ross, TheHarmonica Boss)–Four years on, and it still fights to be what it always was,God bless it, and I still love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: He’s tanned! He’s rested! He’s ready! (OK, he’salso now an ex-con.) One of my favorite politicians is back, beeyotches!

Part The Second: Always nice to hear from this blight again. If I’d found a doctor that gave me the bullshit medical excusethat kept my ass out of Vietnam, I’d like this system, too.

Part The Third: My lord, this reached the Fourth Level Of Suckitude in near record time. And Tucker (Show Killer) Carlson calling Matt Taibbi a “phony”? Tucker Carlson?This Tucker Carlson? The mind, she reels.

Part The Fourth: I think I speak for the entire class when I say,”Don’t let us stop you, honeybun.”

Part The Fifth: And you thought it was impossible simultaneously tothink with your dick and talk out of your ass.

Part The Penultimate: And there I was, thinking that this was in Kentucky.

Part The Last: Sam’s coming home this year. And, listen, boyos. No taking the last 10 minutes off the way you did last year.

To every camel’s back, there is a final straw. Sooner or later, we’ve taken all we can stand and we can’t stands no more, and we pass over the Popeye Line. For me, it came sometime last weekend when I heard Richard Cheney, the pre-eminent moral and physical coward of the era, explain once again the Mulligan theory of national defense by which every president gets one free mass casualty attack that doesn’t count toward “keeping us safe.” (Note to Dick: by this standard, every two-term president kept us safer than you guys did. You were the worst at it. Scoreboard!) And I realized that, by all the standards of objectivity I was taught in journalism school–the most basic of which was that, if you saw a man walking down the street with a bird on his head, you could report it without finding someone else to tell you that, no, what you actually saw was a bird walking down the street with a guy on his ass–there is no longer any reason to take the Republican party seriously. It has become a festival for fruitcakes. The political movement that powered its ascension has become publiclydemented. Sam Tanenhaus can plug his book all he wants, but the fact remains that it was American conservatism that spent three decades throwing open thedoors to the monkeyhouse–starting with the Goldwater campaign in 1964,moving along through the Reagan campaigns of 1976 and 1980, the NCPAC campaignsof that same era, the marriage of convenience with theocratic crackpottery,the Buchanan campaign against the first President Bush, the variousexercises in lunacy aimed at Bill Clinton, the half-mad banality of NewtGingrich, and the cult of personality that sprang up around the secondPresident Bush. It’s a little late for delicate conservativeintellectuals to ponder how it was that all that monkey poo ended up on the walls.

The serious people don’t lead in that party any more, and the leadersof it — Hello, Michael Steele — are not serious people. It is a majorpolitical party run now as an elaborate radio talk-show and completelyin thrall to the maniacs who run actual radio talk-shows. Goddammit, theSpartacists are more intellectually honest and the Hemp Party folks area helluva lot more fun. Why do serious political journalists take thiscareering clown car seriously, ignoring the evidence plainly in front oftheir own eyes? Why does a Democratic president, and an overwhelminglyDemocratic congress, both elected at least in part because the countryhad determined that the Republicans had gone completely mad, care what thesepeople think about anything? Why does a party led by people who thinkthe president is going to hypnotize schoolchildren with his magicKenyan-Socialist spinning eyeballs scare the living protoplasm out ofputative tough guys like Rahm Emanuel?

The perfect should not be the enemy of the good? Maybe not, but thegood has many actual enemies. Evil is the enemy of the good. Greed isthe enemy of the good. Ignorance is the enemy of the good. Cowardice is theenemy of the good. How’s about, just once, somebody worries about thoseenemies of the good, all of which are amply in evidence in the campaignto make sure we never reform the criminally negligent and morallyindefensible way we deliver healthcare in this country?

Instead, we get this. One thing we learned this week–Stephanopoulos is Greek for “Stockholm Syndrome”. Jesus wept.

P.S. Oh, hell. They’ve even started selling their alibis already. Watch this unfold. The D’s will sign off on some nutless POS and then have to run in 2010 on their support for a massive giveaway to theinsurance companies, a group of institutions whom everyone I know hates.The elite press then will ponder earnestly why the administration couldn’twork with “serious conservative voices” on a “bipartisan” plan, asthough any of the former even exist. The Beckite “Socialism! Fascism! Soup!”crazoids will go zipping down the memory hole. Call me Kreskin.

Name: Ben Miller
Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman,

Just finished reading your article, “Official Evidence vs. GutHatred,” where at the end you make note of Senator Kennedy’s voteagainst the invasion of Iraq.

It reminded of of the article in The Boston Globe on Thursday8/28/09 by their conservative columnist, Jeff Jacoby.

Jacoby actually used Kennedy’s no-vote on the Iraq invasion asevidence that Kennedy was “wrong about most of the great issues ofour time.” Jacoby wrote that Kennedy was “willing to consignmillions to Saddam Hussein’s tyranny,” by voting against the “2003liberation of Iraq.”

Amazing, isn’t it? You write that all these reporters who trumpetedthe war have suffered no harm to their reputation. But one of thereasons is because many, like Jacoby, won’t admit they were wrong,and the main stream media is either too afraid to be called liberalor too busy protecting their own to call them on it.

These conservative reporters learned what to do from the Bush administration–never admit to a mistake. Once you admit it, that is the end of the debate, and people can just judge your errors. But be defiant, keepinsisting you were right, keep grasping at straws to defend yourview, keep trying to pound that square peg into the round hole, andthat way you will never have to be known for being wrong. To someonelike Jacoby, who says they were wrong? They certainly won’t admit it,so why then would their reputation suffer.

It is of course the height of arrogance to use your colossal erroragainst someone else. But if we have learned nothing since the adventof Fox News, it is that those on the Right are more concerned withprotecting the Right, then in actually being right themselves. Andfor all their talk about loving America, country clearly takes a backseat to party, even though it is their policies that created the messwe now find ourselves in, and it is their tactics that are stoppingthe president now from getting us out.

Name: Don Hynes
Hometown Portland OR

Dear Eric,

Kudos on your Think Again column “Gut Hatred” re: those in power andpress who “wrote history” vs those cowardly pinheads who paidattention to the facts.

Pierce’s and your reference to Senator Kennedy’s opposition to theIraq invasion bears more than compliment; it demands our attentionNOW. We all know Obama is a far better president in his sleep thanhis predecessor was on his best day, but why are we not challenginghis escalation of the three empires old failed venture in Afghanistanand widening the war (against “terrorists” of course) in Pakistan.

We needed to take on the pathology of he-who-shall-not-be-named butwe cannot be deterred from standing against another misdirected warno matter what we personally feel about its commander.

Name: Michael Green
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Two thoughts on Brother Pierce’s lovely tribute to Ted Kennedy andexcoriation of Robert Bork.

First, when Bork’s nomination was defeated, who got the gig instead?Anthony Kennedy. At the time, a conservative friend of mine chuckledthat we had unloaded an overweight smoker for a physical fitness nutwho figured to serve longer. It turned out that while Kennedy isconservative, he isn’t so all-out crazy as Bork and the Four Horsemenof Reaction. Think of how little of the Constitution would be leftover from the meat grinder if Bork had gotten on there.

Second, I encourage everyone to go to You Tube, type into thesearch line “Swedish Chef Muppets,” and see why Ronald Reagan’sfirst choice to destroy the Constitution didn’t make it. There wasno way the Senate could confirm anyone whose name reminds us of theSwedish Chef.

Name: Dave Richie
Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Charles Pierce,

The Good Dr. A was good enough to post your January, ’03 articleabout the then Senior Senator from your state.

It was a wonderful recap of the man’s forty years to that point inthe so-called “greatest deliberative body..” The memories are notfresh, but not so old so as to be forgotten.

It did reminded me of a time in my liberal youth when stirring wordscalling for truth, justice and the American way seemed to emanatefrom only progressive voices. Yes, I voted for the Happy Warrior,George McGovern and even Jimmuh Cahwtuh…once.

And, yes, the accolades coming from all sides seems a bit overdoneright now. But he is, afterall, just gone. The partisan rancor soeasily dismissed by the Senator will be back in full swing , as yousuggest, by the weekend. The catterwalling by The Nation for Obama tofollow Kennedy’s lead is a bad joke that will be laughed away.

But he did leave an enduring, compassionate legacy. All of us willmiss him, warts and all.

Name: Stephen Carver
Hometown: Los Angeles

Really enjoyed both the Think Again (“Official Evidence vs. ‘GutHatred'”) and The Nation (“Novak Without Tears”) pieces.

Both I think, illustrated very well the nature of what modernjournalism seems to have become: getting to be a power broker on theinside. It’s not even about getting the story anymore, it seems tohave become about getting to the people who have the story, hangingout with them, oh…and then maybe writing a piece about the subject,usually in which the “reporter” takes some sort of starring (if off-screen) role.

I live in LA and have had my share of run ins with celebrities, forboth good and ill and the people who are drawn strictly to thecelebrity aspect of the film or television industry have such hugeegos. It seems that more and more “reporters” have more screen timeand fewer bylines, so more ego-driven reporters (Novak used to be theexception and became the rule, I think) are in the mainstream.Instead of having journalistic integrity to make a career, all oneneeds nowadays is a strong opinion and a pretty face. No journalisticskills required.

Name: Steven
Hometown: The Swamps of Jersey

Eric,

When you asked why they’re “letting idiots bring guns to places wherethe president is speaking,” you answered your own question. Obamaand the Democrats are terrified of the NRA and the gun issue. Iwanted to go into more detail.

Unfortunately, gun control isn’t an important issue, even amongliberals. It seems they’re more concerned about minimum wage and gayrights. So without any pressure from the base, Democrats haveignored it.

But the main reason why Democrats never challenge the NRA and take onthe gun issue is the same reason why the media caves to theGOP/conservatives: intimidation. The NRA and its members arepugnacious, hostile and enraged. Just mentioning “gun control,” andyou’ll be shouted down as a Nazi. Even the “liberal lion” himself,Ted Kennedy, who certainly could have made gun control the issue itshould be, was silent.

When Democrats are forced to comment on guns – at a debate forinstance – they immediately put themselves on the defensive bybragging how much they “support Second Amendment rights” and “supporthunters and sportsman,” as if they have to apologize for supportinggun control; as if either has anything to do with gun control (Iwonder. When was the last time a “pro-life” Republican showed similarempathy towards a womans right to choose?).

I’d say the Democrats are pathetic on the issue but that’s being tookind. They’ve not only allowed the NRA to hijack, distort andrewrite the Second Amendment, they’ve actually taken their side.Consider what Democrats have done, just since last fall: 1) Sen.Chuck Schumer, who was behind the assault weapons ban (now expired,and Democrats too afraid to re-introduce it), got New York Gov.Paterson, another Democrat, to select Kirsten Gillibrand, a pro-gun,pro-NRA congresswoman as Hillary Clinton’s replacement in theSenate. Obama said he’d clear the primary field for her. 2) When thebanking/credit card legislation went through Congress last spring,it did so with a provision allowing guns in federal parks. Obamadidn’t even threaten a veto and signed the bill. 3) To break aSenate filibuster last month, legislation that would allow thosewith “right to carry” permits to bring their guns into any state got58 votes. Fifty-eight votes! (Gillibrand voted against it because of”states rights” issues.)

The “right to carry” legislation and the one allowing guns infederal parks were ostensibly brought up to force Democrats in redand purple states and districts to go on the record. If they votedagainst them, the NRA would have made sure they got a primarychallenge…from the right.

Before the election, Obama said he agreed with the Supreme Courtruling that struck down Washington DC’s hand gun ban. Of course hedid. He thought he had to because no one stands up to the NRA. Ever.And after he was elected, the NRA returned the favor by circulatingfears that Obama would “ban guns” and “take your guns away.” So gunsales have skyrocketed; so much so that there’s now a shortage ofbullets. But not a word about this insanity from the White House orDemocrats; not even from the liberals (next thing you know, they’llsay that Obama’s going to send a government bureaucrat to the home ofevery senior citizen and ask them how they want to die).

This has gone so far in the wrong direction, that gun laws are beingdismantled across the country (dismantling the banking laws sureworked for worked out well for Wall St., didn’t it?). Arizona, forinstance, recently passed legislation and the governor signed, thatwill allow guns to be brought into bars.

So maybe the reason why they’re “letting idiots bring guns to placeswhere the president is speaking,” is because if they were arrested -or heaven forbid, had their guns taken from them – it would become”news.” And I could see the headlines on Fox “News” now: “Obamaprotester denied his First and Second Amendment rights.” And thenyou’d see a long line of NRA hacks turning up on Fox “News,” andelsewhere, saying, “You see? Obama is going to take your gun away!”

So let the record show that instead of standing up to the gunnuts, even the Secret Service has been intimidated by the NRA andits members.

The inmates are running the asylum. They got the keys to the gunlocker a long time ago. They’re getting closer to the President. Andno one gives a shit.