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Slacker Friday | The Nation

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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

Well-chosen words on music, movies and politics, with the occasional special guest.

Slacker Friday

All I've got this weekend is my "Think Again" column about the anniversary of Ted Kennedy's death (and of the 1963 march) here.

And, oh yeah, I continued my argument with Charles Blow over whether Jews think Obama is good for the Jews, here.

Now here's Charles (and Terry):

Charles Pierce
Newton, MA.
Hey Doc:
"And he don't back down/on the battleground/I love it when you call him Indian Red"

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Leave Your Bags By The Door" (Sharron McNally)—As much as I love New Orleans, it was nice to feel it love me back.

Part The First: Dr. Maddow is my amiga, but, I'm sorry, the fact that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pulled her commercials from the local TV station that's been chewing on her for the odd coincidence that the draconian immigration law happens to benefit private prisons in which her top aides have a financial stake is not an assault on free expression. No TV station has a First Amendment right to someone else's ad dollars. What the station should do now is replace all the Brewer spots with house ads on the theme of how tough its reporting has been. Make that Morgan Loew guy, who appears to be a real bulldog, a star, and wonder in your ads why the other stations are getting money from the governor who's afraid to talk to you. That way, you embarrass her and the competition, and you do it to your own advantage. (All of this, of course, presupposes that station management doesn't chicken out.) Of course, unless her campaign aides are drunk, it's unlikely that Brewer wants any part of television for a while. Why should she? She's going to win, easily, and I'm going to drink, heavily.

Part The Second: The Only Man Worth Listening To is being ignored again, while wingnut generals collect checks from fake news operations.

Part The Third: Here is the official entry in the New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller List for Laura Ingraham's exercise in blackface humor, The Obama Diaries: "A satirical fictional journal with commentary, by the conservative political commentator." Remember, this is the nonfiction list. Did I mention that this was the Nonfiction List? Somebody doesn't know his job here, and I don't think it's me.

Part The Fourth: You have to hand it to Mark McKinnon. When it comes to raw, balls-out, front-running opportunistic sycophancy, the man would have embarrassed anyone in the court of Louis XVI. Or even Ari Fleischer.

Part The Fifth: Is there any Democrat besides the guys that hire him that Rahm Emanuel really likes? The hiring of this clown as White House chief-of-staff was the first big tell on President Obama. A career hatchetman devoted to the bunker centrism of the Clinton years and guaranteed to alienate every friend you have.

Part The Penultimate: The hostage drama at the Discovery Channel was a genuine tragedy, and anyone drinking from either side of the ideological trough who tries to politicize The Crazy of it can safely be ignored. But finding out that the gunman specifically cited both John and Kate Plus Eight and the endlessly pullulating Duggar cult… er… clan as his demented casus belli leads me to recall Chris Rock's classic peroration, "…but I understand."

Part The Ultimate: Keith Olbermann is an old friend of mine from back in my fulltime sportswriting days. (Actually, we first met when I was a baby political reporter at the Boston Phoenix and KO was a sports anchor at a local station who was far too smart for his audience. IIRC, there was another rising young street reporter across town named Bill O'Reilly, but I could be mistaken on the timeline.) So I want to thank him for helping to spur me along to my two-day visit to New Orleans this week, where I joined a whole passel of great people working at the free healthcare clinic there. So I'd like to thank KO for lighting the fire under my ass to go down there.

Mainly, I was a people wrangler, and was struck not only by how resilient the people of New Orleans are, but how very much there still is to do in that place. One good place to start would be to rehabilitate and reopen Charity Hospital.

But I digress. Basically, my job was to walk and chat. Where do you go when a woman comes up and says, "I passed my HIV test. I'm so proud"? I congratulated her. How do you tell a guy that he has to wait for an EKG because the doctor thinks he needs one, and he tells you he needs to get back to his job… building floats for Mardi Gras? Most of the people I met were not indigent. They were working, some more than others. And still they came, and it's hard from the perspective of the floor of the Morial center to look at the milquetoast healthcare reform bill that got passed as a historic triumph, and even harder to realize that even that small advance is going to get rolled back and/or shredded by the godawful Congress that this country is preparing to elect.

(There was a conspicuous lack of politicians volunteering in that hall, by the way. Louisiana advance work ain't what it used to be.)

Local TV was there and, of course, MSNBC had a broadcast position at the end of the hall. But it would have been nice to see some national reporters walking around. covering "healthcare" the way it should be covered, and not from the perspective of how something polls, or who hurt Ben Nelson's fee-fee this week. Where were they? National political reporting in this country has written off the people themselves except as data points that do not bleed, or have heart murmurs, or volatile blood sugar levels that may one day cost them a leg or a kidney. Oh, if enough people get together in Washington to watch a public clown show, you'll get some op-ed Mouseketeer to bestir himself to talk to some of them. But the actual people whose lives are materially affected by the issues that all the cool kats 'n' kittens find so entertaining, they don't count for much. I would have liked to see someone, say, from Politico (!) walking through the place. But their interest in politics ends on the sofa in the Green Room. Pity, really.

Terry
Cheyenne
Dear Eric, After watching the love letter, er love documentary, about Eastwood on the TCM station, I began to put some thought into the artist and his work. There's a cruelty, misogyny and meanness that emanates from many of his films or characters that has always put me off. I'd so admired Sondra Locke's work as Mick in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, a book and film I loved when I was young, but never enjoyed Locke's and Eastwood's film odyssey after. I read her book and did find it curious that Eastwood used his vast power to repress her working again. Seemed weird that he couldn't just move on. Breakups are often horrible, but that seemed a bit beyond the pale.

I've wondered the nature of male/female criticism of rock and film, not that there are many women in that biz, and don't fully know the validity of my gut feelings here, whether they should be even be couched in terms of gender. But this macho American male loner with balls of steel who kills and plunders his way through the country whether with guns and killing or emotional destruction is so over for me. In later work, yes, Mystic River was well-crafted, with great character work by actors male or female. Do not get me started on Gran Torino. It would take pages to say how I hate that film and didn't believe in any part of it, except the main character's ability to hate and perpetrate very sick forms of bonding rituals with the young. Just sure the Hmong neighbors took him to their hearts, yeah.

Just a regular Jane iconoclast here, I guess. Seems to me there are such better filmmakers, so many more wonderful stories to know. He's not my cup of tea. Just one woman's voice.

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