Wrap-up: I’ve got a new Think Again column called “The end ofLocal reporting,” here.

For the Daily Beast this week, I did a piece on “Cheney’s ShadowGovernment” here and “Sonia’s Kabuki Confirmation” here.

And my regular Moment column, is called “Should We Settle forSettlements–or Peace?” and that’s here.

Slacker Monday

Charles Pierce
Newton, MA

Hey Doc:

“Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime/
Once I built a tower, now it’s done/Brother, can you spare a dime?”

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “Didn’t He Ramble?” (Louis Ford) — I do more than emphasize with New Orleans. I simply love it.

Short Takes:

Part The First: I will venture way out on the limb and say that the Washington Post committed an act of consumer fraud here.

She didn’t write this and I decline to pretend that she did, even though the lack of a thought process is clearly hers. I hate these things in general, but coming from someone who can’t get from a subject to a verb without spraining her ankle, this fakery is unusually egregious.

Part The Second: Your tax-dollars at work. That collection of horse’s-ass co-sponsors alone is enough to make you wonder if this legislation is, in fact, locking the barn after the centaur has been stolen.

Part The Third: Another important cable TV barrier fell this week. Luckily, this space has obtained an early copy of this week’s edition of Reliable Sources, in which Howie Kurtz and the gang discuss this breakthrough in the national dialogue.

Part The Fourth: One of the great regrets I have about my career writing sports is that I never got to Wimbledon. Now I see that I missed a lot of great sporting events.

Part The Last: I can’t tell you what an immense cultural shock this is. A huge part of my misspent youth, now gone. As a tribute, I give you the very first song they played when the format changed 41 years ago.

In my duties as Interim Altercation Papist Correspondent, it’s incumbent upon me to pick what’s left of the meat off the bones of this peculiar carcass, which has been eviscerated across the Blogistan over the past few days. I think my favorite part of it–other than the implicit “I dare you to bring up the molestation scandal. I double dare you!’ subtext of the whole enterprise, that is–is the concluding passage, the “kicker” as we former tabloid columnists used to call it:

“These questions, and many others like them, are the kind that a healthy political system would allow voters and politicians to explore. But for now, at least, you’re more likely to find them being raised in Benedict XVI’s Vatican than in Barack Obama’s Washington.”

And people say that conservatives have no sense of humor. The Vatican of the former Josef Ratzinger as a festival of free thought? Leave aside the fact that all of the questions mentioned are cheap strawmen– “Why can’t a liberal be tall and, at the same time, lefthanded? Why not, indeed?”–this is written in praise of the man whom the late pope put in charge of knuckling dissenting theologians, and they both were positively gleeful about it. These two reactionaries ran Charles Curran out of Catholic University all the way to Southern Methodist University, which is a considerable distance, geographically and every other way. They beat up Hans Kung until he looked like Gerry Cooney at the end of the fight with Holmes.

There is a reason why nobody takes the Vatican seriously on the issues of poverty, pre-emptive war and the death penalty. It’s because the Vatican never puts any muscle behind its pronouncements on issues like that. The folks in and around the Chair of Peter take out the big hammer on only two general issues — their own power, and where people put their pee-pees and with whom, and what might issue from same. That’s why Catholic bankers can go on merrily charging interest on loans, even though both the Council of Nicaea and the Third Lateran Council — to say nothing of Popes Clement V and Sixtus X — condemned the practice as usury, which has been considered a serious sin for a lot longer than has, say, contraception. And, in something of a royal irony, the practice was roundly condemned again in the papal encyclical Vix Pervenit,which was issued in 1745 by…wait for it…Pope Benedict XIV.

If it were otherwise, Michael Novak and the CrisisMagazine crowd would have been run out of the Church for their opinions on war and the social contract as surely as Kung was for taking an axe to the doctrine of papal infallibility, or Curran was for taking on Humanae Vitae. Hell, just on general principles, that loon, Richard John Neuhaus, would have been booted as far as poor Teilhard de Chardin was. For a columnist in the New York Times to propose that the principal architect of so much of this repressive nonsense is now to be looked upon as a champion of revolutionary theological and philosophical inquiry — or, most laughably, as an example of some vague new political paradigm — is proof only that some folks really need to get out more.

Name: Guillermo A. Partida
Hometown: Duarte, CA

Señor Allerman,

Desi’s last name is spelled Arnaz. Once again you have shamed my people.

Name: Terry
Hometown: Cheyenne

Eric, You should look at the lineup for the Hardy, Strictly Bluegrass Festival early this October in San Francisco. I’m going for my 3rd year, Lord-willing. The Knitters are coming. The Chieftains, Flatlanders, Marty Stuart, Jorma Kaukonen, and Mavis Staples are also on the list. Many, many more excellent choices. Emmylou is always frosting on this cake. So many great bands, so little time. I fell in love with The Knitters when I saw them year before last. Love it.

Also, I shall bastardize Shaw to say, “If the Beethoven oxygen burns up your little lungs, you may seek such stuffiness as suits you.” As grandma used to say when we did not prefer something exquisite, “all the more for me.” I’m with Ludwig.

Name: Steve
Hometown: Los Angeles

I first came across Mark Karan when I was doing the promotion for Delaney Bramlett’s award winning CD, “A New Kind Of Blues” in 2008. Delaney told me point blank that Mark Karan had to be from some other planet judging by the way he played..

Mark Karan’s new CD is nothing but GOOD. Hearing the duet with Delaney was just like having Delaney with us again.

Name: Dominic Umile
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Dr. A,

While you’re sifting through the Yep Roc roster, don’t forget to pick up some of the work from sorely missed Philly act The Bigger Lovers. Their ‘Honey in the Hive’ is an absolute gem — think sparkling guitar tones and warm vocal harmonies weaved into blasts of early Who-styled pop. TBL’s bassist now plays with another fine PA outfit called Missing Palmer West. I’m recommending them as well, and it’s not just because my brother’s in the band. On an unrelated note, why is Pat Buchanan still given a 23-hour-a-day forum on a supposedly left-leaning cable network? Yuck.