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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

Wrapup: Our Think Again column is called "Falling for the Far Right'sACORN Agenda" and deals with the manner in which the MSM got rolled byright-wing re-working vis-a-vis ACORN. You can find it here. My Nation column this week is called "The House that Irving Built."

Alter-review:

Loudon and Charlie again: I wrote this little squib for TBD on the new (and beautifully packaged) Loudon Wainwright tribute to Charlie Poole, High, Wide and Handsome, which Sal reviewed so favorably here a couple of weeks ago here.

I saw the Wainwright/Roche family performance of the material a weekor so ago, and of course it was wonderful, and I sat across a table fromfamed New Yorker scribe, Rick Hertzberg, taking copious notes, and so Ifigured that when he posted something on his prestigious weblog, I couldjust glom onto that without having to do any more work. Alas, thisappears to have been wishful thinking on my part--not for the first orlast time--and it appears that said mixture of whimsy, intelligence andsardonic humor will not be appearing. Nick Loss-Eaton, however, wroteit up here and if it doesn't make you too jealous for what youmissed, get the cd.

CHARLES PIERCE
NEWTON, MA.

Hey Doc --

"The Queen said, we do not lend out our underthings/Just take mebackto Abita Springs."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Keep It Clean" (Charlie Jordan)--Much to the dismay of President Olympia Snowe, I am not going to wait anothermonth to talk about how much I love New Orleans.

Part The First: How in hell does ETL New Republic manage to findyoung people who write like 60-year old lunchroom nuns who need,more fiber in their diets? Look, kids. I know it's cool to walk thehalls and all, but this is the magazine of Stephen Glass, Ruthie Shalit, andMeshuggah Marty Peretz. Let's keep the attitude to a minimum, OK?

Part The Second: Oh, dear Lord, you should pardon the expression.There are so many layers of non-scholarship here that you'd need to blast just to get down to Stupid. Or, in re: thecrack at National Public Radio, you can just call Dr. Google. Research, it's not just for breakfast any more.

Part The Third: Doggone it, I like him.

Part The Fourth: Dear Mr. Fantasy, play me a tune. Also on this week's Revisionist Hit Parade--Andrew wonders, with child-like naivete, "Where have all the cowboys gone?"

Part The Fifth: Take that, Canada and the UK! Best healthcare system in the world, dammit.

Part The Sixth: One more like this and Saletan and everyone else at Slate is going to need a moist towel. He's a lot funnier when he's writing about uteruses that don't belong to him.

Part The Seventh: Lloyd Grove, wingnut boy-toy, rides again. I guess Coulter let him off the leash for a while.

Part The Eighth: Of course, then again, there are people withdeeper, more profound crushes. Why do I believe that, somewhere in the offices of the National Review, there is a three-ring binder with the phrase, "Mrs. Sarah Lowry" scribbled all over the cover?

Part The Penultimate: If you're keeping score at home, it is nowdemonstrably true that, in the vital area of not treating publiclunatics seriously, neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post, nor Time magazine, nor all of our television network news divisions--nor, for that matter, theDemocratic congressional caucus and the White House--have the basiccommon sense and courage demonstrated this week by the Board OfDirectors Of The Fredericktown Tomato Show Parade.

Part The Last: Why the Intertoobz are wonderful things. I'm anaction hero. Who knew? And, while I am familiar with the oeuvre of The Dead Milkmen--BTW, it's been far too long since I heard "Bitchin' Camaro"--the Barefoot Mailmen had escaped mynotice.

The horror, the horror. People are talking out loud about race inconnection with the conservative movement--or, at least, its dementedself now bungling all over the landscape. The ol' sobersides in thepunditocracy are assuring us that, while racism certainly exists--although, you will note, they never, ever say where exactly--that it's wrong to assume that racism in the basis for the opposition to the president's attempt to pry a healthcare reform package through Congress. This is, of course, true. Racism is what the folks on the arson squad call an "accelerant." It is that which intensifies and directs the flame. Everyone who opposes the administration on this issue is not a racist. But, I'm sorry, everyone who does so by bleating, "I want my country back!" pretty much is.

More to the point, the fact that this surprises anyone is sad evidence that we don't teach history at all well any more. The accelerant of racism was bottled up for use by the rising conservative movement--and by the Republican party, to whom it pledged itself--as far back as 1964, when the party committed itself to the support of the remnants of white-supremacy for reasons of pure political advantage. Since then, it has been poured out when and where necessary. (Although George Wallace also manufactured his own distilled brand in 1968 and in 1972, which the GOP bought out, like Pabst buying out Schlitz.) It was there when Richard Nixon talked about "law and order," when Lee Atwater dropped Willie Horton on Michael Dukakis's head, and it was there when kindly old Dutch Reagankicked off his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, talking about statesrights, and when he blathered on about fictitious "welfare queens" andwhen his administration went to court to defend the tax-exempt status ofsegregated Southern academies. The difference is that conservatism wasusually careful about how it calibrated the amount of accelerant to pourinto the conflict. It got so good at measuring the amount that it forgotthe simple fact that, sooner or later, the fire can consume the arsonistas well. Now that the national Republican party is solely the province ofmeathead politicians and radio maniacs, there are "sensible"conservatives who are alarmed by what they see. It should be agreed upon in ourpolitics that these people drift into the wilderness for a while and muse uponwhere their movement has led them. But the first thing they all should do isapologize to the nation for choosing to take a course 45 years ago inopposition to the transcendant moral issue of America. They prosperedthrough bigotry, and then through a deft ability to package it, and theymade the ensuing four decades immeasurably crueler as a result.There'snot enough sackcloth in the world for these clowns.

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