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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

I've got a new "Think Again" column called "Forget the Question. The Answer is Tax Cuts" and that's here.

My Nation column is "Money Well Spent" and it is about the capitulation of the liberal establishment to the money and pressure of the Kochs and company, here.

My Daily Beast post this morning is called "Obama's Finally Ready to Rumble" and that's here.

And my Moment column is called "Sparks Fly at a Hamptons Kiddush" and it's about a fight over "Seeds for Peace" and the increasingly nutty Abe Foxman, here.

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: "Why I Like Roosevelt" (Willie Eason)—Once again, I failed to gather people on the National Mall, wipe away my heavily glycerined tears, and tell people how much I love New Orleans.

Part The First: For the first time—but certainly not for the last, I fear—the incumbent president of the United States disgusts me. As I recall, I took a little heat hereabouts a while back when I said the following: President Obama is defending the Bush theories of unlimited executive power because he wants those powers for himself. Please, someone explain again how I was wrong.

Part The Second: VH1 is doing another one of the 100 Greatest deals; this one—The 100 Greatest Artists—is apparently aimed at the Younger Crowd. (I completely fail to recognize at least half of the talking heads they bring on, some of whom I am sure are famous singers at the moment. Talking Heads, by the way, are tucked away somewhere in the lower half of the draw.) What I do know is that Bruce Springsteen slotted in at No. 21. And now, a preview of our Coming Attractions: Dr. Eric Alterman in Scanners II: Electric Boogaloo.

Part The Third: Ever since the hydrophobic shit-fit over the Not-at-Ground-Zero Cultural Center got itself launched, I was wondering when this was going to surface again. (The intellectual author of this nonsense is Alec Rawls, son of John, who is probably drinking heavily in the Beyond.) Anyway, further proof that, if you write a book, nothing ever changes. Let us now open our hymnals to Chapter Two for details.

Part The Fourth: I've spent a lot of time working up the argument that Politico (!) is the worst idea to hit political journalism since the passing of the Alsop brothers. Or at least since some offender-against-humanity taught Mark Halperin to type. Therefore, it is really unfair of the lads 'n lassies at Ye Olde House of Mulch for Brains to go out of their way to make the damn thing worse. Of course, if ol' Squint there gets stuck for a column idea, he can always ask Morning Joe regular Mike Barnicle if he can borrow one of Barnicle's well-thumbed Mike Royko anthologies. Here's the official bullshit anyway and I advise everyone to scroll through the comments to learn how Joe Scarborough is a DFH. Hilarious, I tell you.

Part The Penultimate: I want to believe that this story has a deeper immunological basis than the moronic crusade against childhood vaccinations. I would like to believe that a great deal.

Part The Ultimate: No, actually, I am not overly impressed that the president spoke "harshly" about the confederacy of opportunistic morons who have plagued his first couple of years in office. This whole day-late-and-dollar-short administration has driven me up the wall. But I am even less impressed by the notion that Barack Obama has abandoned the principles he allegedly enunciated in his star-making 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. This is because I always have read that speech as being one of the most singularly naïve, and profoundly overrated, public addresses of my lifetime. It was High Broderism in poetic form, wishful thinking gussied up in secular preaching, and I said so long before his hand left the Bible in January of 2009. Did he really believe that twaddle? Does he still believe it now? And, if he does, do people cut up his meat for him? What country does he think elected him, anyway?

There is no constituency out there for pulling together and doing great things. As a result, one party doesn't have the gumption to try and the other one is dedicated root and branch to the abandonment of participatory democracy in this country in favor of government-by-talk-radio. Eugene Robinson was far too kind. As a functioning political commonwealth, we are not selfish. We are not spoiled brats. We simply suck. We respond, always, to our worst instincts rather than to our best intentions. Given a choice between our intellect and our appetites, we'll choose the latter every time and twice on election day. We are about to elect a Congress full of the Mole People because we don't give enough of a damn about the task of governing ourselves to do anything else. And we're proud of it. It's nice of the president to notice, but, really, dude, where you been?

Frank Lynch
Really Not Worth Archiving
Top of the morning to you, Eric. The very real risk of reprisals from Koran burnings was brought home to me a couple days ago in the profile of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in this week's issue of The New Yorker. Subscribers can access it here.

The profile recounts KSM's college years in North Carolina, and the abuses he and fellow Muslims received from other students. When KSM returned to the Middle East, his anti-American views were set in stone. Someone who knew him before he matriculated tried to persuade him that the students which KSM encountered were not representative of all Americans, that all Americans don't hate Muslims. KSM refused to be convinced, went silent, and said not to bring it up again, that his views were "strong."

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