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Slacker Saturday | The Nation

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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

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

Slacker Saturday

I've got a new Think Again column, which involved quite a bit more work than usual, by the way, called "The Continuing Scandal of Howard Kurtz and The Washington Post," here. And my Moment column, "Why Jews Vote Like Puerto Ricans (and not Episcopalians)" is here.

CHARLES PIERCE

NEWTON, MA

Hey Doc:

"Looked like there was 10,000 people standin' round the buryin' ground/I didn't know I loved her 'til they laid her down."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Crescent City Calypso" (Dr. Michael White)--I am weighing several plans for a new offensive in my campaign to tell the country how much I love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: A tip of the Tam to the redoubtable Digby who found THIS first. In the immortal words of Alvy SINGER, what I wouldn't give for a large sock full of horse manure.

Part The Second: A media project started by Tucker (Fail) CARLSON!

And now, a word from our SPONSOR: "If this guy owned a funeral parlor, nobody would die."

Part The Third: I like this REVIEW for the clarity of its arguments, but I love it for the fact that the New Yorker finally breaks The Horseshit Barrier--see the last graf--and tiny mummies weep in the Beyond. But baseball MANAGERS across America cheer!

Good on you, Elizabeth.

Part The Fourth: Of course, there are CHEAPER, TAWDRIER GOODS out there selling themselves on the radio.

Part The Fifth: Being The Continuing Adventures Of Waldo, The Drunk Security Guard. Amazed at his continued employment at the home offices of Salon, Waldo celebrates by chasing 15 shots of Virginia Gentleman with a six-pack of Piels Real Draft. He sings two choruses of "Twist And Shout" and, while impersonating Ferris Bueller atop a desk, he falls, knocking himself unconscious. While he is out cold, a squirrel hops in through a window, downs the rest of the liquor, and starts tap-dancing on a KEYBOARD. "When as a Yale graduate student I ransacked that great temple, Sterling Library, in search of paradigms for reintegrating literary criticism with history, I found literally nothing in Levi-Strauss that I felt had scholarly solidity." And then I failed to find my ass with both hands and made acareer out of it.

Part The Sixth: A week or so back, I chided the NYT's rightist quota HIRE for arguing that religious conflict is sanctioned by the Gospels, but that acts of charity lack a sound basis in Scripture. I'd like to know what he thinks of today's READING, apparently from the Letter Of Paul To The Gambinos. Bastards.

Part The Penultimate: Further proof that, at Arianna's joint, where resides The Future Of Journalism, all you need to get a gig is a seat in one Green Room or ANOTHER. (And, as Interim Altercation Sports Editor, it behooves me to point out Exhibit B for the prosecution.). Mika's dough-brained patter is unworthy of a weekly shopper in central Missouri. I mean, really, "Being a mommy"? And, worse, in a country with 10 percent unemployment and rising, "You can always change a job"? Nice, Mika. Change yours. Today.

(Episode Two: Revenge Of The TWIT)

Part The Ultimate: I'm sorry but while both Ezra KLEIN and Jon COHN have done great work on this issue, they are talking here about a country and a political system that no longer exist. And their responses to Marcia Angell's CRI DE COEUR are largely political, and not really to the point of her piece, which is that no substantive reform of the system is possible until the control that the insurance industry exercises over the practice of medicine is broken forever. The now-familiar argument is that the House bill--even if it had a snowball's chance in hell of surviving the Senate intact, which it doesn't--represents a good first step. When exactly was the last time our political system--to say nothing of the Congress--did anything in "steps"? We don't progress. We move a step ahead, and then there's an election, and then we move another step in the opposite direction. The idea that the current debate will produce a system that will somehow be immune to our febrile and idiotic politics is naive to the point of translucence. For this to have worked at all, it had to be so huge and transformative as to immunize itself thoroughly in the event that Congress or the White House--or both--change hands. It had to be so immense as to be unmovable so that it would be permanent enough for enough people out in the country to become invested in it that the political danger would be to monkey with it at all. (Which is pretty much the way things are in Canada now. Their system, for all its flaws, is politically sacrosanct.) It also had to be abig enough change to overcome the fact that one of our two parties will be completely off its head for the foreseeable future. Whatever comes out of this process is going to be far too fragile to survive the kind of boneheaded thinking that produced this NONSENSE this week. And Social Security has a more solid constituency than whatever the new healthcare plan will have.

Name: Michael Green

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

This is not related to anything in particular in this blog, but, then again, it is related to everything--namely, the reports that Catholic bishops threw their weight around to get the anti-choice measure included in the health care reform bill. Several things about this depress me.

One is my friends on the left who are so critical of their actions, including Eleanor Smeal from NOW [ed. note: in fact from Feminist Majority] complaining about violating the separation of church and state. I wonder if she felt that way about a minister named Martin Luther King, Jr. Sauce for the goose is, unfortunately in this case, sauce for the gander.

We are not going to solidify our support until we figure out what should not be so difficult: making religion OUR issue. Not difficult? Simple. If you are a Christian, you believe in Jesus. Would Jesus oppose health care for all Americans? Would Jesus compare ANYONE with Hitler, or use photos of dead Holocaust victims to make a political point? Keep pounding that point.

I am also depressed that the bishops seem to have decided that their duty to minister to the sick is unnecessary unless everything else involved in those ministrations comports with their views. That isn't very godly or Christian. I don't recall them being this interested in whether members of their flock were going to be blown to bits in an unnecessary war that a professedly Christian president chose to wage and lied to the American people about. I thought lying was a sin.

Name: John Barker

Hometown: Des Moines, IA

There has been much breath-holding and nervous excitement as the Obama Administration considers General McChrystal's request for 40,000 additional troops for Afghanistan. Today word is leaking tout that instead of simply rubber stamping one of four options provided by the military the President wants a thorough analysis of what works and doesn't about our current Afghan policy, possible scenarios for using our resources differently for better results, and a withdrawal strategy. Considering the facts of steadily declining popularity for this war among Americans (under 50% now), high cost in money and lives, an extreme desire on the part of Afghans for us to leave, and results that have been almost nonexistent since removing the Taliban from Kabul almost 8 years ago and the wisdom of this approach is obvious. The Washington press corps has naturally decided that this represents an extreme political risk for Obama. That's right, once again they've decided that one plus one equals the square root of two, or perhaps something else from this family. Hey, David Frum said it, Fred Kagen said it, Rush said it, when have those guys ever been wrong?

Name: Ed Tracey

Hometown: Lebanon, New Hampshire

Professor, while I sense your relief that Tom Tomorrow's character Bearded Librul Man has jettisoned the full monty in favor of a goatee...perhaps Goateed Librul Man is a simply a Separated at Birth brother of BLM. I mean...have you ever seen the two of them together?

Last week you wrote about Conor Friedersdorf--sadly, it seems that his modest proposal to create a [demilitarized zone] for conservatives to discuss culture in a relaxed manner appears to have jumped-the-tracks.

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