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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

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

Slacker Thursday

We've got a new "Think Again" column called "Tea Party/Fox Party" about some of the implications of Massachusetts here.This week on Moyers...

Oh look, it's me. Everybody watch...

Faced with the increasing global demand for oil and the threat ofclimate change, America needs a new energy policy--but what are our options? Bill Moyers sits down with Public Agenda analysts Jean Johnson and Scott Bittle to discuss how we can power America's future and why we should "work the problem" rather than listening to extremes on either side. Johnson and Bittle are the co-authors of Who Turned Out the Lights?Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis. Then, the Journal assesses Obama's first year as President in the wake of Democrats' defeat in Massachusetts' special election for Senate with Princeton politics and African American studies professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell and journalist Eric Alterman.

Alter-reviews by Eve Rose Alterman:

Make It or Break It, Volume one, extended edition

Make It or Break It is a show about four main teenage gymnasts competing and training to be in the Olympics. Each girl has a weakness, not always a physical weakness, but one that creates drama in each episode. I easily became addicted to this show because I felt I related to them in one small way or another. Each episode ends with a cliffhanger having you begging for more. I watched this entire season in two days. I guess that means something.

I give this show five stars and it is a definite buy for a teen from theages 10 through sixteen. (You can see the included extras here.)

10 Things I Hate About You, Volume one

10 Things I Hate About You is a show about two sisters that have completely different values. (Sorry folks, the kid stopped there. She had too much homework and I made her go to my lecture last night.) Anyway, I watched the first episode of the show with her and we both liked it, at least I did, almost as much as that show about Why You Can't Date My Daughter, or whatever it was called. It's well written and well acted and the girls are cute in all the right (and wrong) ways. While we were in Punta Cana, she stayed up till 2:30 watching what she said was nine episodes of the show in a row. But I couldn't get the review out of her. It's got a bunch of extras that you can look up here.

CHARLES PIERCE

NEWTON, MA.

Hey Doc: "Don't push me/'cause I'm close to the...edge/I'm just tryin'not to lose my head."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Hello Stranger" (Walter WolfmanWashington)--RIP Bobby Charles, one of the major reasons why even a feckless political elite can't stop me from loving New Orleans.

Part The First:

The Spectacle two-parter with Elvis interviewing that promising kid from Jersey got off to a terrific start. Springsteen's an interesting interview. When he starts talking about politics, or the country in general, there's almost a kind of, well, diffidence about him. It's not there when he sings about those things--just when he's talking about them. It's almost as though, like a lot of self-taught folks, he's reluctant to bring out his ideas unless he can couch them in a kind of modesty--or, in his case, string them out on his Fender. It's really charming. And the version of "Radio, Radio" that they teased from next week's Part Two looks like a roof-blower.

Part The Second:

We'll get to the news from the Bay State down below, but this made me summon another pint. The president calls the winner on election night. Now, ask yourself why. ("Because the president is a class act" is really sweet, but it's irrelevant in this context.) He gains nothing politically from it, and if he's still delusional enough to believe that any Senate Republican wants anything less than his head on a stick, maybe it's time for a long rest somewhere. In 2006. (And if he thinks Scott Brown wants anything less than that, I'll pay the plane fare.) I don't recall any congratulatory phone calls from the president to any of all those Democrats who got elected. ("Hey there, Jon Tester. Nice job out there in Montana. Best of luck fucking me up for the next couple of years!") Along with all those anonymous "White House aides" and"Democratic activists" who were bad mouthing the Democratic candidate while the polls were still open, these are Exhibits MCMVII through MCMVIII of Things Republicans Never Do.

Part The Third:

None of these should have a place in decent society ever again. Nicepanel, MSNBC. Squint. The Meat Puppet. An MBA rush chairman. A serial plagiarist and fabulist. And the Crazy Dolphin Jesus Queen. It's sheer dumb luck that the entire planet didn't tumble into a black vortex of aggravated asshattery.

Part The Fourth:

I'm no seismologist, and I'm sure there are good reasons for the jargon being the way it is, but it strikes me that, when you've been hit with a7+ event on the Richter Scale, a subsequent 6.2 event is not an"aftershock." It's another earthquake.

Part The Fifth:

Corporations are people. They have rights. I'd like to stop at this point and congratulate the Democrats whose bipartisan efforts gave us Roberts and Alito for the next 20 years. Good thing that civility counts so much in Washington or else the truly disgusting David Bossie might have to work for a living. And my friend Jack Beatty continues to be right--the Supreme Court's Santa Clara decisionfrom 1886 is one of the great unacknowledged malignant viruses in American history.

Part The Sixth:

Good, talented people are being laid off by the truckload at local TV stations and at newspapers. Magazines are folding. Network TV news is as hell of itself. The public is ill-served and underinformed. (Someone should write a book about that...and it should come out in paperback next June!) But, luckily, we get Louis The Simple ascending to his father's throne.

Part The Penultimate:

It appears that Waldo The Drunk Security Guard has gone off to rehab again, and that the folks at Salon have hired a diligent, sober replacement to keep the crazy people from sneaking in and posting whatever is rattling around in their heads. That said, relax, Camille.

Nobody was asking. Trust me.

Part The Ultimate:

Hi, I'm from Massachusetts.

We suck.

Sorry, America.

Now that the Commonwealth (God save it!) apparently has elected Scott Brown to be King Of The Universe, we all really ought to take a breath here. I spent election night at Doyle's Cafe, my old local in Jamaica Plain, back when I was living on the top floor of a three-decker and writing for the alternative press. Doyle's has turned into something of a Hiberno-American political theme park in the years since and, on electionnight, it was taken over by the MSNBC crew--specifically, the Hardball gang and Dr. Maddow. Schmoozability was at high tide, despite what was going on generally all over the state. Three things stuck out specifically.

1) The unexpected land mine in the race turned out to be MassCare, the state health-care plan conceived and passed a while back by the then-largely-still-sane Mitt Romney and Sal DiMasi, the then-Speaker of the state's House Of Representatives who is currently awaiting trial on a number of different counts. (Will Mitt be tarred by his "connection" to DiMasi when he's bragging on the campaign trail about MassCare, the way Coakley was ripped here for not yet disemboweling DiMasi personally on the State House steps? Are you kidding?) The plan isn't perfect. But people really like it. So Brown, shrewdly if irresponsibly, used it as a club on the president's plan. He did so in two ways. One--he intimated that the president's plan would damage the Massachusetts plan. (Would it? Whoreallyknows? At this point, for all I understand it, the president's plancouldbe written in Urdu.) More disgracefully, Brown made a very neat, and very subtle, I've Got Mine, Jack argument. He asked--sincerely, of course--why other states haven't done what Massachusetts has done and,if they can't or won't, why should Massachusetts taxpayers be asked to subsidize those layabouts in the other 49 states. (Sorry down there in theMississippi Delta, you don't have a Sal DiMasi so you'll have to dienow.) It worked very well.

2) Brown won in my part of the state, dammit. If you look at a map of Massachusetts, and you draw a vertical line on the western border of Framingham and another one at the eastern border of Springfield, Coakley didn't win a single city or town except tiny Harvard and the city of Worcester. The town where I grew up went 60-40 for him. I'm thinking of rewriting my birth certificate. And Doc's friend, the great Jim McGovern, better had get hustling because that's his district.

3) Most distressing of all, the Massachusetts electorate came out in favor of climate-change denialism and emphatically in favor of torture. In fact, his enthusiasm for waterboarding was probably the clearest and most unambiguous position that Scott Brown took on any major national political issue. (Some of the people interviewed here seemed to believe that Brown was going to D.C. to lower their property taxes.) Having spent years developing a foreign policy for the Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex state senatorial district, Brown concluded that he doesn't consider waterboarding torture--which, of course, makes him a liar and a coward, hiding behind semantics. And this from a guy in the JAG corps--which elsewhere employed some of the only heroes produced during the years in which the country degraded itself and its ideas, largely through the techniques that Scott Brown is so proud of, which is only another reason why we suck here in Massachusetts.

I have long been an adherent of Berube's First Theory Of Politics--"I used to consider myself a Democrat, but thanks to 9/11, I'm outraged by Chappaquiddick. "As such, I would like to propose a corollary to those lefty wankers who think that I should have this pipsqueak as my junior senator for three years so that they can all do the Superior Dance around the campfire at the Circle Jerk Ranch--I am never so outraged at Rahm Emanuel that I will be complicit in torture."

Like I said, sorry, America.

p.s. -- It seems Tim Noah noticed the same thing I DID (http://www.slate.com/id/2242075) about the role played by the current Massachusetts health-care plan, although he gives less weight to the I'm All Right, Jack argument.

The Mail:

Name: Ed Dufilho

Hometown: Arlington, TX

Dr. Alterman,

Only Molly Ivins could properly describe a campaign involving Rick Perry (Gov. Good Hair) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (The Breck Girl). As for the Tea Party/Libertarian/Republican/Gun-Totin'/ChristianFundamentalist/Keep-Your-Gummint-Hands-Off-My-Medicare candidate, Molly would be the one to assign her her proper place in the political loony bin that is Texas.

God, I miss her.

Name: Steve Nelson

Hometown: Kent, Wa

Thank you for the Molly tribute. I admit to my chagrin that I had not remembered even though such memories are hard on the soul.

Name: Michael Green

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Brother Pierce and I share a love for Law & Order and it would be nice for it to go back to the beginning. I liked Moriarty as prosecutor, was aware of his political views and wonder whether his train has chugged around the bend. But I also miss Steven Hill, one of the great actors ever. He didn't write the line, but no one other than Adam Schiff could have said it: "She could convince a jury that Jeffrey Dahmer had an eating disorder." Now, the Halperin comparison might have worked even better with Dahmer replacing E Coli. Just a thought.

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