Quantcast

Slacker Friday | The Nation

  •  
Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

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

Slacker Friday

"Think Again" column about how important right-wing talk radio is to the politics of this nation and what a mistake liberals make by failing to pay attention to it. That's here.

Nation column, "Money for Nothing," about how networks are looting their news divisions to carry insane celebrity salaries for their hosts and anchors.

Daily Beast column on the failure of Biden's trip to Israel and the need for an imposed solution, here.

Here's Charles:

CHARLES PIERCE

NEWTON, MA.

Hey Doc:

"Now, little boy lost/ he takes himself so seriously/He brags of his misery/ he likes to live dangerously."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Danzon Boogaloo" (Los Po-Boy-Citos): I frackin' love New Orleans.

Part The First:

This governor is a Democrat. Thought I'd point that out. (As far as federal tax dollars go, is Wyoming a Taker and not a Giver? Of course, it is. The last Democratic politician who signed something like this was probably Jefferson Davis.)

Part The Second:

Uh-oh. Il Papa's brother seems to be in some deep schiess of a very familar kind. Hey, Catholic politicians. When the US Council of Catholic Bishops starts meddling in secular politics, remember that a) this is the guy they all work for, and b) the US Council, by and large, doesn't have a huge constituency within the American church, and probably should have been broken up on a RICO case 15 years ago. These are not people of whom you have to be afraid.

Part The Third:

Oh, god, this is as good a takedown as they get. Why the elite press thinks the opinions of a bedwetting birther like Andrew McCarthy are worthy of anything except scorn is hard for me to fathom.

Part The Penultimate:

I have become a connoisseur of the destruction being wrought by Parson Meacham over at Newsweek. In last week's episode, he unleashed Evan Thomas, chronicler of Great Men and perhaps the nation's only collector of John McCloy memorabilia, on America's schools. The result, unsurprisingly, was an assault on the people who teach in them, and the unions that protect them, many of whom make (horrors!) $75,000 a year which, unless I miss my guess, probably pretty much amounts to the annual bill for the car service that transports Mr. Thomas to the various Green Rooms of his life. Read this piece of alleged journalism very carefully. Do you notice what's missing? C'mon, kids, you can do it. That's right, class, there is not a single quote in it from an actual schoolteacher. Not one. Not a word. A couple of think-tankers, and a writer of A report. But not one person from the trenches. Even if you agree with some or all of it, this isn't journalism. This is a gussied-up blogpost, and Parson Meacham should flog himself for an hour for putting it on the cover.

And, no, one quote in a sidebar doesn't count, and neither does a contrived faceoff between the head of the AFT and our latest education Madonna, Michelle Rhee, whose work I will leave to the estimable Bob Somerby passim.

Part The Ultimate:

I am not unsympathetic to the arguments made by Kevin Drum or Matt Y. here, even though I think the opprobrium heaped on Jane Hamsher is wildly disproportionate. (Does anyone really think Rahm Emanuel isn't as much of a bully and a dope as she maintains? Really? And it's past time for John Cole to stop being a snarky creep on the topic.) Ask me what I'd do, and I'd probably vote for the ongoing POS that is the Senate bill. However, I would like both Kevin and Matt -- or John -- to explain the "stepping-stone" argument to me. Why , precisely, should I believe that, that once we pass the POS, any opportunity to improve it, largely by the process of political evolution, will remain? Am I to believe that, gifted with a federal mandate requiring people to buy their products, the insurance companies will drop over time their resistance to the kind of health-care system that exists everywhere else in the industrialized world? That they will desist from the practice of buying enough legislators to eviscerate any subsequent attempts to reform the new system to the advantage of their consumers? Why would they do this? Please show your work.

After all, it's unlikely that the new system proposed in the ongoing POS will become so wildly popular, and so seriously armored by public approval, that there will be a substantial political risk to having opposed it in theory, or to opposing it in practice. Not by next autumn, anyway. How will the political calculus be so changed by the passage of the POS this April that, by November, opposing it will endanger anyone's chance of holding onto a congressional seat, or winning an open one? Why shouldn't the Republicans run on a promise to repeal the new system, and then follow through by doing exactly that? We are dealing with a political opposition made up of nihilistic vandals who want to roll back everything Theodore Roosevelt passed. I doubt that these people will be intimidated by a new baby quasi-entitlement that has yet to affect anyone in any real way. Can somebody explain to me how the surviving Democratic politicians, even if they hang onto their majorities, will muster the will and skill to move toward "further reform in the future," as Mr. Drum puts it, given what we've seen of their performance with overwhelming congressional majorities? (You will note that, in the Jon Chait piece that started all the current ruckus, these questions remain unanswered. Again, everyone, please show your work.

The mail:

Name: Michael Green
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

"Money for Nothing" brought to mind former CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Tom Fenton's fine book, Bad News. He said that Tom Brokaw told him he offered to give back some of his salary to help cover costs and was told no, the money would go straight back to the network, not to the news division. Fenton said he mentioned that to Dan Rather, who said he wouldn't provide details, but he could tell a similar story.

That the networks pay these anchors so much is insane. That the networks don't see that a good news department only helps them in the end--even helps the profit margin if viewers like a network's news coverage enough to give other programming a chance--is criminal.

Name: Jackie Baker
Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas

"Teachers can be fired for any or no reason for three years. Shouldn't decent administrators notice who can't teach in three years? Sorry for the rant; feel free to trash."-Joe Gallagher from Prairie Village, Kansas

I'm from Joe's area and he has hit the nail on the head regarding how we treat teachers nowdays. We've tied their hands ,then we blame them because the children they are paid to teach have crappy parents who refuse to look past their "little angel's" tarneshed halo's. i have friends who "were" school teachers but because of the bull shit politics with the "School boards" they have since chosen different professions. We live in a affluent area where the parents harp on the teachers because they're afraid "little johnnie" or "sweet suzie" won't get into Harvard or Yale all because this "mean" teacher is trying to make them "earn" their grade. Hats off to you Joe-I totally agree with your point of view!

Name: Michael O'Connell
Hometown: Seattle, WA

Once again, David Broder is an idiot, with lots of company.

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.