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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,"‘No Opinions Except Ours,' Says the Washington Post,” and that’s here.

Also, I did this insanely long piece for The Nation, just under 17,000 words, and it’s called “Kabuki Democracy: Why a Progressive Presidency Is Impossible, for Now.” This is the main url, and this is the single page version.

CHARLES PIERCE
NEWTON MA.

Hey Doc:

"Do you really think I care/what you read or what you wear?/I want you to/join together with the band."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "He Will Understand And Say Well Done" (Tommy Sanction)—If people understood what miracles really are, and now often they really can happen, they would have a smidgen of a slice of a portion of an understanding of how much I love New Orleans.

Part The First: Occasionally, the wish for tumbrels becomes nearly irresistable.

Part The Second: Oh look, Morning Dead Intern is on mushrooms again. And there's a push to move Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods into the chairmanship of the RNC. And, oddly enough, Levi Johnston picks just this moment to issue an enormously believable spontaneous apology. Which prompts only one serious question—how much, exactly, did the apology cost?

Part The Third: I am happy that Adam Serwer has his own blog now, mostly because he's the go-to guy for stories like this one. However, once she's confirmed, during some lull in some proceeding, Justice Kagan probably could ask Justice Thomas about that "shameful and morbid sexual response" business.

Part The Fourth: The one thing that has worried me the most about the Obama Adminstration is its transparent devotion to the Golden Age of the Pericles of the Ozarks. They are now about to ride off the cliff with it. This is not going to be pretty.

Part The Fifth: Note to all editors, and this especially includes you op-ed editors: any piece that comes in seriously using the phrase "ClimateGate," or referring to the "controversy" over global warming spurred by some hacked e-mails, forthwith should be sent back to the author for a major rewrite.

Part The Penultimate: Go ahead. Elect her. I freaking quit, is all.

Part The Ultimate: Just this week, several specimens of the Asian Longhorned Beetle were found on the grounds of the Faulkner Hospital in my old neighborhood of Jamaica Plain in Boston. The Faulkner is directly across the street from the Arnold Arboretum, which is one of the city's great treasures, and the place where my wife and I went last year to hear about the threat that the ALB poses to hardwood trees everywhere. In Worcester, where I grew up, they already have cut down nearly 28,000 trees because of ALB infestation. If they cross the street, the Arboretum can be destroyed. If they get into the massive hardwood forests that extend from the Adirondacks and upper New England into Canada, well, that's pretty much the ballgame. What the hell, you always wanted plastic living room furniture anyway, didn't you?

And I guarantee you, somewhere in this country, somebody who makes their living talking on a radio program thought this was just the funniest damn thing. Or perhaps several somebodies.

That's all we do now. Laugh at stuff. Make fun of things. Cheer our side. Boo the other side. Meanwhile, the actual problems keep piling up. (It's not just the ALB. The bats are dying off, and nobody knows why, except Welcome To Malarialand! some day soon.) We argue about nonsense. We encourage irrationality and we enable insanity. We take the following things as gospel, despite the fact that they are all demonstrably, dangerously and (in many cases) laughably wrong: that giant corporations have consciences and any concept of the general good; that to win the political argument means that the problem, whatever it is, has been solved, or never existed in the first place; that elections cannot be expected to have meaningful consequences, and that, because there are two sides to every argument, they both must be right or, at least, equally worthy of respect. Meanwhile, we don't vote, and we engage as citizens largely vicariously, and the problems, unsolved, worsen. My lord, Yeats was a helluva poet.

I have no solutions for all of this. The forces arrayed on the other side are too strong.

 

Michael Green
Las Vegas, NV

Your wonderful vivisection of the journalistic equivalent of Prince—the Washington Post, formerly known as a newspaper—as great as it is, also needs to emphasize more strongly that if David Weigel writes those things privately about conservatives, he is following in a wonderful tradition.  Phil Potter, a Baltimore Sun reporter renowned for his toughness—and I believe considered a conservative—used to start his news stories about Joe McCarthy by writing, "Joseph McCarthy, the no-good lying son of a bitch from Wisconsin," then rip it out and write his real story.  Weigel should have known better, but the Post long, long since should have known better.

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