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Eric Alterman | The Nation

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Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman

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

Bad for the Jews

My new Think Again column is called : "History" Isn't a Dirty Word about the incredible amnesia shown by the MSM regarding the Bush presidency is here.

My new Nation column, on Marty Peretz's New Republic as being "Bad for the Jews" is here (I took a relatively high road here, and did not get personal about Peretz but whenever I write about "aging ideologue" I like to point out the following. The man's entire life is filled with nothing but negative accomplishments. He has never published a book; never published a memorable piece of scholarship. He has written no journalism of note, save in a negative fashion. He does not actually edit the magazine upon which his name appears. All he has really done since becoming an adult is to spend down the inherited fortune of his ex-wife, lose TNR readership, destroy its reputation, end its tenure as both a liberal and a weekly magazine, and spew insults to people who, almost without exception have accomplished more in life than he has. Were it not for his former wife's inherited fortune, we would take his racist rants no more seriously than we would any other bitter, crazy old man screaming at Arabs and Latins on the streets of Cambridge.)

That's all this week

Here's Sal.

Alter-reviews:

AC/DC-Backtracks

While not essential, not even for AC/DC fans, Backtracks is a smart collection of leftovers. Covering songs that appeared just about everywhere except the band's officially released US albums, this compact boxed set gives you 2 CDs of oddities, many of which are not just throwaways. Disc Two is the best thing here with live perfomances culled from concerts as early as 1977, and Disc Three, the perfunctory DVD slap-on, is a nice addition to the previously released DVD set, Family Jewels, covering the TV appearances and videos that didn't make the earlier set. This is not the place to start with AC/DC, but a great place to end.

David Bowie-Space Oddity (40th Anniversary Edition)

Bowie's 1969 debut gets the big upgrade with new remastering and an entire CD of unreleased material, including early demos, stereo mixes and live BBC tracks. Not quite "there" yet, Bowie tries his hand at a few different styles of music on this debut, with folk-tunes, hippie-anthems, and straight out rock and roll, and most of it works. Everyone knows the title track, but it's songs like the beautiful "Letter To Hermione," the super-catchy country rocker "Janine" and the nearly 10 minute "Cygnet Committee" that make this pre-Ziggy album a bit of a gem.

The bonus material is all worthy, with alternates and live BBC tracks that are more than just slight variations on the album tracks.

Paul McCartney-Good Evening, New York City

This is the type of release that I just love to tear apart. Do we need yet ANOTHER live document from the cute Beatle? Well, "need," no. But it's really great and it's really cheap.

Paul has toured the USA 5 times as a solo act and each time has released a live document. Wings Over America is legendary and Tripping The Live Fantastic was just that, in that it had been 13 years since we heard Macca rock up the Beatles' catalogue. But since then, his live repertoire hasn't changed that much, with the exception of the inclusion of some weak-ass new material, so the next two live sets, Paul Is Live and Back In The US, seem pointless, cute titles not withstanding. This new 2 CD document of his historic CitiField stint, got a big ol' eyeroll from yours truly, but as a fan, I had to listen, and you know what, it's damn good!

First time live performances of "Mrs. Vanderbilt," & "I'm Down" are nice surprises, and "Paperback Writer" sounds better than ever. But it's the whole package that works. The recording itself is in your face, and just a few songs in you will be reminded of why Paul McCartney is still one of the greatest bass players in the game. Lots of Beatles and Wings, and even the two songs Macca recorded as The Fireman sound great with a full band.

I have not seen the DVD and I don't plan on watching it. An educated guess tells me each song will have 250 edits per 20 seconds of music, and more than enough close-ups of adoring middle-aged Beatles' fans. My heart can't take it. Still, $19.99 ($13.99, if you act now) for 2 CDs and a DVD is just right.

Sal
BURNING WOOD

The Mail:

Name: Derek Lessing
Hometown: Philly

Michael Green thinks liberal criticism of Catholic bishops is unfair because Martin Luther King Jr was a minister. But, while MLK's faith was an integral part of his activism, he never claimed to speak in an official capacity for the Baptist church. MLK's influence came from the force of his ideas, not from his position of authority within a church.

Name: Bob Seymour
Hometown Tampa, FL

I'm an avid reader and, as a jazz broadcaster, enjoy your comments on music as well as politics. Just want to point out this was not Christian McBride's debut as a leader; he's formed lots of bands, along with his remarkable sideman career. The '07 Vanguard appearance was the first as a leader at the VV in more than 10 years, though, with a name he often used, The Christian McBride Situation. It's great that the new Mack Avenue disc has got that ensemble back together with their new name, Inside Straight. He's a man of real brilliance. Keep up the great work.

Name: Tim Burga
Hometown Dallas, TX

Dr. A,

Before Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the holy trinity of Kevin Smith movies was Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy. If you haven't seen Mallrats, you aren't spiritually complete as a human being.

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.

The All-Time King of Conflicts of Interest, continued

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.

and Hurray for Tom Tomorrow: for giving Mr. Bearded Librul his goatee back!

(Let's not keep fighting about this, Dan. He's much handsomer this way...)

Some Alter-reporting:  I ran into Joe Scarborough on my way out of the book party for Harry Evans the other night. HE was coming in. Handsome fellow, tall, and in awfully good shape, and I worry he would make a really attractive Republican presidential candidate if he took on the (really, really) crazies and beat them for the nomination. So I asked:

Me:  "So Joe, you running for president?"

Joe: "Me, no way. I'm having too much fun doing what I'm doing..."

There you have it, sports-fans.

Alter Pet Peeve: If you see two people talking at a cocktail party, don't walk up to them and start talking as if they were not talking before you got there. It's incredibly rude and everybody thinks it's OK. It's not. Wait to be drawn into the conversation.  Or if you insist on doing it, go ahead, what do I care. Just don't do it with me.

This week on Moyers:

While politicians and the media war over "the public option" and "bending the cost curve," acclaimed actress-playwright Anna Deavere Smith gives voice to questions of life and death, sickness and healthcare.  Bill Moyers speaks with Smith, whose one-woman play "Let MeDown Easy"--nine years and more than 300 interviews in the making - has been applauded for spotlighting the real-life personal stories of people facing illness and mortality.

 Alter Review Box-set Bonanza:

Sal on "Dolly" and "Ya-Yas" Eric on Up, Monster's Inc boxes, the Kevin Smith bluray box, and the Dead Winterland 77 Box. Also Eric Christian McBride, live at the Vanguard Tuesday night.

"Dolly," the new 4 CD Dolly Parton box from Legacy, covers a lot of ground. This is a good thing.  Dolly, like so many other wildly successful artists, is known for her hits. But what this excellent new set proves is that there is so much more, especially if you're not enamored with some of the cornball tunes associated with Dolly.  Let's face it, Dolly Parton IS a bit of a cornball, but she is an incredible songwriter, fabulously likeable, and an entertainment legend.

The earliest material on Disc One shows Parton trying to find herself, going from stripped-down rockabilly to a 60's girl group feel to the country & western sound that defined her career, with almost a dozen tunes that feature her first partner in crime, the late, great Porter Wagoner. Most of it is quite strong, with "It's Sure Gonna Hurt" standing out for me, essentially a rewrite of Dion's "A Teenager In Love."

The classics are all here, "Jolene," "Bargain Store," "I Will Always Love You," as well as some of the fun, but cheesier hits like "Nine To Five," "Here You Come Again," and "Everything Is Beautiful."  But it's everything in between, including the killer, folky demo "I've Known You All My Life," which, if you didn't know, could be an early Bangles tune. There are only 7 previously unreleased tracks here, and unfortunately, this box does not include anything from her recent trilogy of fantastic bluegrass records on Sugar Hill. But as boxes go, it is solid and really all you need...and those 3 great bluegrass records on Sugar Hill.

The box is big and beautiful. The hardcover book is pretty. The iron-on tattoos are cute. The sound quality is fantastic, though no better than what has been released before. The bonus material is great, though available for years on easy-to-come-by bootlegs. The Ike & Tina and B.B. sets are a lot of fun. So why does the new Rolling Stones "Get Yer Ya Ya's Out: 40th Anniversary Box" bother me so much? Well, it just seems unfair. How quickly would Stones' fans rush to buy the Ike & Tina or B.B. sets? In this economy, my guess is not so quickly. What do we really want here? The DVD with the short Maysles film and the officially released bonus songs. Right? Wouldn't the smarter move have been to incorporate the additional tracks into the existing album and release it as CD/DVD set for $19.99?  Now, we have to pay $49.99 for five songs and a DVD. If the collectors item aspect is important, then at least put the 5 songs on the same CD, and make it a 2 CD/DVD set for $15 less.

Just sayin...

Sal

BURNING WOOD

--

Have you seen "Up?" I watched the Bluray the other day with the kid and we loved it. I don't know if you will love it quite as much if you don't have a bluray, but I think it's the most impressive bit of animation I've ever seen. The story's pretty moving too.  Ed Asner is just perfect as the grumpy old man, though the boy-scout is a little more annoying than I would have liked.  Turns out this guy, Pete Docter, also wrote Wal E, which was also wonderful. The version I got is four cds. I really can't begin to tell you what's on all of them; a new short, a digital version, conversations, directors, a few alternate endings, which are kinda fun, games, really, it's a jungle out there. There's a similar four disc bluray of Monsters Inc, which is good but not great from a grown-up's perspective.  Though almost anything with Billy Crystal is bound to be funny. It's about a utility company,  Monsters Inc as it happens, that generates energy from the fright of children. A nice little girl shows up and well, things happen. This has a filmmakers roundtable, and a whole mess of other stuff too.

Once you send the kids to bed, may I recommend the new bluray box of three Kevin Smith masterpieces, Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and the greatest of all of them, "Chasing Amy."  These movies are insanely great, though Jay and Bob is only pretty good. A friend once compared Smith to an American Rohmer, and if you don't like potty-mouthed humor, you probably think that's completely nuts, but many of us don't, and don't appreciate your haughty attitude, either. What do these films come with?

Again, lots of stuff, making of documentaries, interviews, various Smithania, with which even those of us who are pretty devoted fans could live without. Some of it is really fun, though, and it will quench the thirst of the thirstiest of those who cannot bear the idea of these movies ever ending.  Really, just looking at the list, it its actually a bit nuts how much stuff you've got on these dics. A person could spend an entire Thanksgiving weekend....What else do we have?

How about ten cds of live Dead from their BEST in this opinion, period. Winterland June 1977: The Complete Recordings presents three complete shows at the end of their tour, which I saw, by the way, at the Palladium, when I was 17, and we get 9 full discs, 68 tracks of beautifully recorded and nicely packaged prime Dead, with cool cover art, and photos, etc. There's tenth disc too, of another show included just to round out the number. I like it better than Winterland 73, but that's because it was my time...

If that's not enough, there's new two cd release from the Jerry Garcia Band in 1975 (during the Blues for Allah recording) and when he was just putting this project together. IT was done at the Keystone in November of that year and has Nicky Hopkins on piano. It sounds a lot like the rest of the JGB releases to me, but then again, my obsessive does not hold up against many when it comes to Jerry.

I caught the early show of Christian McBride's "Inside Straight" quintet at the Village Vanguard, which was pretty much dedicated to their playing of their new cd " KIND OF BROWN," on Mave aVenue records. It's a nice, old-fashioned kind of outfit, with melodies and stuff and some fine playing, by Steve Wilson on sax and the amazing vibraphonist Warren Wolf, one of McBride's former students.The band was formed two years at the Vanguard, which was McBride's first ever appearance as a band leader, following a career of playing with the likes of Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, etc, in what was supposed to be a one-time thing, but clicked and here they are.

 As it happens, the second tune on the cd "Song for Kareem," was also the second song of the night, which was kinda too bad, as Mr. Abdul Jabar did not make it down to that crowded cellar until about five songs in. He allowed no fuss, was not introduced, just sat and listened, on the day of the announcement that he was fighting leukemia. They will be there through Sunday night. (Speaking of exciting sightings at the Vanguard, did I mention the time I saw Vaclav Havel, Henry Kissinger and Lou Reed together at an Eric Reed concert there? I swear. Ask me about it next time you see me...) Oh, one more thing about Christian McBride. Don't believe a thing the dude says. When he asked the crowd who wrote the theme from "Alice" which he played, and which I never heard of, for a free cd, I took a wild guess and said "Marilyn and Alan." When someone else called out "Bergman" as I was finishing, he said he wasn't giving it to anyone. I don't care, I get it free anyway, but what's the deal with that? How is that the kind of fine, upstanding behavior to which young, aspiring jazz bassists can one day aspire. (I would have been fine if he had given it to the other guy, but, nothing? Really?)

Also, also, this year is the 41st Voll-Damm Barcelona International Jazz Festival.  I didn't get to go, but which is too bad, because it sounds incredible. They had Wayne Shorter Quartet, Chick Corea & Gary Burton, Brad Mehldau, Marcus Miller, and Bela Fleck.  I will get to see Chano Dominguez at Jazz Standard beginning on Dec 3-6, performing a newly commissioned work, "The Flamenco Side of Kind of Blue," which people tell me, was also a big deal....

Slacker Thursday

I've got a new "Think Again" column called "This Fish Rots from the Head Down" and it's about what a crappy, dishonest columnist George Will is, and it's here.

(Funnily, I am staying at the Doubletree in Ontario, CA, where I am debating young Ross Douthat at Pomona College tonight, and its computers will not allow me to access that piece or any piece on the CAP website. The warning reads: "The access to the address above is restricted. Accordingly to our harmful content database SiteCoach does not allow you to visit this page!" Sheesh.

My Nation column this week is an examination of the issues raised by a young right-wing journalist's awful book about the elite media's alleged persecution of Sarah Palin and it's called "Sarah, Smile!" (I know, I know, keep my day job...)

While Pedro was letting all the honest, hardworking people of the world down last night, I was typing away at this meshugena hotel computer so that the world might enjoy my election wrap-up from the Daily Beast, and that's here.

Did I mention that my ThinkPad died in between Dallas and Ontario? It's the fourth time that thing has had to be repaired, and of course I am stuck out here with a long flight home no laptop. It's enough to make one consider switching to a Mac, finally. Anway, fortunately Pierce is early, so we have an excuse to post this. Oh, ok, one more thing. Did you happen to notice how Bruce ended his night of the RRHOF (at 1:30am) with an amazing "Higher and Higher" featuring everybody who wanted to perform: Sam More, John Fogerty, Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, Tom Morello, etc, while Bono/U2 felt a need to kick everybody off the stage (Mick, Bruce, Patti, etc) so they could close the show alone? Just saying... See you this weekend. Wild and Innocent, Saturday. The River, Sundy. First time ever for both. Here's Pierce. 

CHARLES PIERCE

NEWTON, MA.

Hey Doc --

"Well, I hitched a ride from the borderland/when the home guard went insane/No use trying to work with people/who can't tell fire from rain."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Nevada" (Gil Evans) -- It's never too close to call how much I love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: Parson Meacham, that pious fraud, can continue to BITE ME. And, of course, in conjunction with Sister Sally Punchboard, he also presented a reading from the Book Of THUGS.

Part The Second: The redoubtable Howler remains invaluable. THIS is why. How you settle on a know-nothing pink balloon like Marsha Blackburn as a credible spokesperson for "the other side" on this issue--other that the very real possibility that she might've been the only one the reporter could get on the phone--is too deep for my small mind to ponder.

Part The Third: Very weird COLUMN. Note to Jon--the reason that ETL New Republic hasn't won a National Magazine Award recently is assuredly not because it once won one for Betsy McCaughey's bullshit. The reason Marisa Tomei has not won an Oscar recently is not  because she won one once for My Cousin Vinny. (And Betsy's was the worst  article in the history of a magazine that once employed Stephen Glass, and that continues to publish the fudge-brained ramblings of The Singer MIDGET?  Look a bit deeper, my lad. And the NMA's aren't until next spring, for pity's sake. Someone needs a hug.

Part The Fourth: I care less about David Brooks's dating advice than I do about a goat's taste in opera.

Part The Fifth: My favorite POST yet from my favorite new honky-tonk here along the docks of Blogistan.

Part The Penultimate: Thanks to Marcy for blogging up this TRANSCRIPT. I was particularly struck by this analysis from Rep. Lamar Smith, one of the true brainiacs in the Texas delegation: "All Al Qaeda needs to do now is open a bookstore." I guess they're right. We are going to have to tighten up our Borders. Hey-yo! No, thank you. Really. I'll be here all week.

Part The Ultimate: Of all the shoddy reactions to last Tuesday's orgy of marginal significance, this may be the most  IMPORTANT. If you're keeping score at home, the national Republican party just sent a message to the nutters that, any time they can muster up a candidate from the Island Of Misfit TOYS, the party will take a pass on the race. Now, if you think Cornyn's a little smarter than I think he is --and I think he's pretty much a blockhead--you could argue that he's giving The Base just enough rope to hang itself.  (The establishment candidates who get crisped as collateral damage--Hi there, Charlie Crist!--are just SOL, I guess.) However, if you are burdened with common sense, it's plain that the national GOP is scared right down to the tassels on its loafers by what's going on in the hinterlands, its trembling exacerbated this week when Congresswoman Batshit J. Crazee called for direct ACTION. They may learn to channel all this by 2012; the redoubtable Digby OPINES that the whole business is just the same old plutocratic weasels sub-contracting the job of rebuilding their movement. That may be, but, for now, and for whatever reason, one of the country's two major political parties has surrendered itself utterly to the monkeyhouse. While undoubtedly entertaining, this is in no way a good thing.

Name: Stan Druben

Hometown: Ashland, OR

You ask: "The Dow's up, but why are Main Street Americans still reeling from last year's economic collapse"

One answer is that, today, rising (even rapidly rising) GDP is a poor indicator of recovery, even if it encourages a rise in the DOW.

"What gets measured, gets attention." And the fact is, GDP ignores or distorts too much of what needs attention-like who gets the increase (all equitably or mostly a few) and what impact the rise has on natural capital (e.g, the atmospheric commons).

"If the GDP is Up, Why is America Down?"

is the title of a 1995 Atlantic Monthly article. The current "jobless recovery" and the recent study requested by President Sarkozy, "Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, are but two of the many reasons to (re-)read that Atlantic article now.

Name: Tom Joyce

Hometown: Buffalo, NY

Dear Eric

I see the Yankees won the World Series. That has to be bad for Obama, but don't expect our liberal media to say so.

And with a six game sweep, the Public Option is dead.

All events bode badly for Obama. I expect Richard Cohen, who IS a liberal (really) (no! really really!) to eventually make this connection.

Tom Joyce

Name: Joe Raskin

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Dr. Alterman--

While I share Charles Pierce's love of "Rocky and His Friends", the greatest cartoon show ever started with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck singing "On With The Show". Nothing else can ever top anything that Chuck Jones was involved with.

Name: Steve Pasek

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Mr. Alterman,

Already sent an email to Charles Pierce, but also wanted to thank you for the plug for Chainsaw Dupont's "C'mon Cat", which I produced (I'm also his lyrical collaborator on other songs). It was actually the result of an "exquisite corpse" exercise which we used to provide an instrumental track for that CD, it's a weird tune but apparently hits some people in the right spot.

If you might be interested in hearing some of our music, let me know the address to send it to and I'll mail some CDs out to you. This song was from the "Street Trilogy" project, a trio of CDs dedicated to the 3 great cities of the blues- Chicago, New Orleans, and Memphis.

Slacker Friday

I've got a new Think Again column called "Obama's Commie Past Exposed Yet Again," and it's here.

Here's what I did last night. How were things in your city?

Crosby, Stills and Nash:
"Woodstock"
"Marrakech Express"
"Almost Cut My Hair"

Bonnie Raitt with David Crosby and Graham Nash:
"Love Has No Pride"

Bonnie Raitt and Crosby, Stills and Nash:
"Midnight Rider"

Jackson Browne with Crosby, Stills and Nash:"The Pretender"

James Taylor with David Crosby and Graham Nash:"Mexico"

Crosby, Stills and Nash with James Taylor:
"Love the One You're With"

Crosby, Stills and Nash:
"Rock and Roll Woman"

Crosby, Stills and Nash with Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and James Taylor:
"Teach Your Children"

Paul Simon:
"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes"
"Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
"You Can Call Me Al"

Dion DiMucci with Paul Simon:
"The Wanderer"

Paul Simon with David Crosby and Graham Nash:
"Here Comes the Sun"

Paul Simon:
"Late in the Evening"

Little Anthony and the Imperials:
"Two People in the World"

Simon and Garfunkel:"The Sounds of Silence"
"Mrs. Robinson""Not Fade Away"
"The Boxer""Bridge Over Troubled Water"
"Cecilia"

Stevie Wonder:"Blowin' in the Wind"
"Uptight (Everything's Alright)"
"I Was Made To Love You""For Once in My Life""Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours""Boogie On Reggae Woman"

Smokey Robinson with Stevie Wonder:
"The Tracks of My Tears"

John Legend with Stevie Wonder:"Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology)"

Stevie Wonder with John Legend:"The Way You Make Me Feel"

B.B. King with Stevie Wonder:"The Thrill Is Gone"

Stevie Wonder:"Living for the City"

Stevie Wonder and Sting:
"Higher Ground"/"Roxanne"

Stevie Wonder with Jeff Beck:
"Superstition"

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band:
"10th Avenue Freeze-Out"

Sam Moore with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band:
"Hold On I'm Comin'"
"Soul Man"

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with Tom Morello:
"The Ghost of Tom Joad"

John Fogerty and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band:
"Fortunate Son"
"Proud Mary"
"Oh. Pretty Woman"

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band:
"Jungleland"

Darlene Love with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band:"A Fine, Fine Boy"
"Da Doo Ron Ron"

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with Tom Morello:
"London Calling""Badlands"

Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band:
"You May Be Right"
"Only the Good Die Young"
"New York State of Mind"
"Born To Run"

Darlene Love, John Fogerty, Tom Morello, Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, Peter Wolf and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band:
"(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher"

CHARLES PIERCE

NEWTON, MA.

Hey Doc:

"Here by the sea and sand/Nothing ever goes as planned."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "C'mon Cat" (Chainsaw DuPont) -- Not even 
the fact that Mary Landrieu is a bought-and-paid-for What-Grayson-Said of
 the insurance industry can keep me from loving New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: Don't make Ms. Jane angry. You wouldn't like her when 
she's ANGRY. Somebody smart is going to have to explain to me why "Go ahead and 
filibuster, you jackasses" is politically unfeasible in a country where 
two-thirds of the people want what's being delayed.

Part The Second: I like a lot of what he says, too, but, if Alan Grayson is going to work talk radio's locked-ward, he should probably stick with Art Bell's program. That said, this woman
 used to work for Enron, for pity's sake. Seems to be we're just haggling
 about the price.

Part The Third: As Interim Altercation Papist Correspondent, I'd like 
to point out to this rightist quota-hire that, if HE wants to be 
Peter The HERMIT, he's going to have to grow a better BEARD. Also, concerns about environmental destruction and the crippling effects
 of the poverty associated with Third World debt are "only tenuously 
connected to the Gospels," but atavistic theocratic loogie-hawking is just 
what, oh, St. MATTHEW had
 in mind? Doesn't. Know. Dick. Of course, he lacked support because His 
Eminence, Cardinal Nutsy Fagen was busy ELSEWHERE.

Part The Fourth: I was informed by E-card this week that, on November 
19, we will all celebrate the 50th anniversary of the greatest cartoon show 
there ever will BE. No doubt 
about it. I gotta get another hat.

Part The Fifth: Today's Seminar: DUMB or DUMBER?. Discuss. Also, young Matthew? If you get into it with Tina Fey, leave 
your dental records with someone first, OK?

Part The Penultimate: Some good words from la belle FRANCE. And, yes, I do expect to be 
referred to hereafter as "La Plume Feroce," especially by the ladies. Hubba
hubba!

Part The Ultimate: I heard this just in passing this week, but 
unemployment in Flint, Michigan has edged over 30 percent, and Detroit 
seems to be coming up hard on the rail. If you drive around this country, 
or if you travel it by rail, a lot of the most poignant places through
 which you will pass are the small- and medium-sized cities of the Midwest, 
with the empty, blank-staring factories. (A closed steel-mill is a ruin
 almost incomprehensibly vast.) Close your eyes, and you can hear the
 machines grinding, and the workers yapping about the Tigers or the Indians, 
or the Bears or the Packers. You can see the plant gates open, and the lunch pails swinging from dangling fingertips, and maybe the kids running 
excitedly up the sidewalk, anxious to carry the steel helmet or put on the 
tool-belt. A middle-class came out of those gates, every day, for 30 years, 
and a stronger country came out of that middle-class, and out of the GI
 Bill. Rolling by those places today is to wander through the lost archaeology of your own country, in real time.

Thirty percent unemployment is not a sustainable society. Deeper in
 those numbers you will find dramatic increases in domestic violence, in 
alcoholism and drug addiction, and an accelerated breeder reactor of 
failure and apathy, feeding on itself, the self-sustaining manufacture of a
 century of despair. People who cannot work cannot eat. People who cannot 
eat will not vote. Why? What is possibly in it for them? What in the name
 of god is their place in the glittering kabuki of what has become of our 
politics? They're not buying tables at the Correspondents Dinner. They're
 not buying anything advertised on the cable shows. They're not sending big 
checks to President Change-I-Am. They don't count, those 30 percent, not 
any more, and the empty mills rust, flake, and blow away in fragments in 
the winds that are turning colder.

We are on the precipice of something very dangerous right now.
 Thirty percent is not the stuff of a sustainable, credible political 
democracy, which I suppose is OK, since we don't have one any more, and
show no signs of being particularly upset about that self-evident fact. We 
saw that this week. The United States of America, which once fed its people 
and armed the world in order that it could save itself, is unequal in its 
self-government to the simple task of keeping its citizens healthy and
 alive. In the task of self-government, the unemployment rate is nearing 100
 percent.

The Mail

Name: NJ Progressive
Postal

Hometown: Newark, NJ

The government shut down occurred in 1995. I had a friend who worked
 at the National Gallery, who had set aside tickets for me and my significant other. But the government shut down was total: my friend was not allowed in his office to get the tickets for me. My husband
 and I stood in the cold (and it was a freakish cold snap for normally moderate Washington) to wait to see those wonderful paintings. Seeing 
The Geographer and the Allegory of Painting in person made me forget 
three hours of waiting in the cold.

Eric replies: Also, Sal would like you to know that I screwed up his review and only one song from "Tenor Madness" is included in the new Coltrane collection, reviewed yesterday.

Oh, Brother...

I've got a new Think Again column called "Obama's Commie Past Exposed Yet Again," and it's here.

I took a seminar at Yale in 1985 when I was getting my master's with Edward Said on the role of the intellectual. Everyone in the class wore black and quoted Derrida (with whom I also took a seminar, in French, of which I understood very little). Anyway, there was a rather imposing African-American fellow at the seminar table on the first day with a vest and tie, etc., and a big afro. He said nothing for the two-hour class and then at the end, was called and ripped into Said with every three-dollar word I had ever heard and many more I had not. It was like a fantasy come true--going back to school to show off how smart you were now; perhaps the coolest moment I've ever seen in a classroom. Then Said said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr. Cornel West," who apparently was an assistant professor in the Divinity School, letting the rest of us in on the joke. The amazingest thing about Cornel is what an original he is; there's never been anything like him: "Gramsci and Sly Stone both understood..."

Anyway, I mention all of this because of the publication of Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, an as-told to memoir written with David Ritz, who has apparently cornered the market on cool as-told-tos, having done Paul Schaffer's surprisingly excellent one, and also Lieber and Stoler's not-as-great one. I's published by something called Smiley Books and it's fun.

How amazingly powerful and influential is Jane Mayer? She is so powerful and influential that when GQ picked her as (tied) for the 27th most powerful and influential person in Washington, they put up a photo of some other Jane Mayer... Just saying...

This Week on Moyers:

The Dow's up, but why are Main Street Americans still reeling from last year's economic collapse?  With Americans still facing rising unemployment, foreclosures, and declining property values, renowned economist James K. Galbraith on whether we've averted another crisis and how to get help for the middle class.  James K. Galbraith is the Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the LBJ Schoolof Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Galbraith has authored six books, most recently The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.  And, National Review senior editor Richard Brookhiser talks about his mentor William F. Buckley, Jr. and today's conservative movement.

Alterreviews: The New Rod Stewart and John Coltrane boxes by Sal:

ROD

The Rod Stewart Sessions box that was just released is a real head-shaker. I've made no secret on both these pages in the past and on my own at Burning Wood, about how Rod Stewart gets under my skin.  An artist, whose first 10 records, both solo and with The Faces are some of the greatest in the history of music, and whose last 10 are some of the worst, now gets his career-spanning outtakes anthologized.  Who is this for? Fans of his first 10 won't care too much for Discs 3 & 4, and fans of his last 10 won't care for any of this.  But that doesn't make Rod Stewart Sessions any less interesting, at least for one solid listen.

Unlike The Beatles' anthologies or Bruce Springsteen's "Tracks," there are no real gems here. Instead, we get almost 70 curiosities, some of which work and some that don't. Hearing staples as "Maggie May" and "You Wear It Well" sounding so tentative, with working lyrics and Rod singing what sounds more like a guide vocal, is almost fun. Almost. It's actually a bit uncomfortable. We know these songs too well, and silly lyrics like "I don't mean to tell ya, that I think you look like a fella" make "Maggie May (Early Rough)" unlistenable. There is a version of "This Old Heart Of Mine" that is listed as "with Booker T. & The MGs," except that instead of Booker T's signature organ, he's playing a Fender Rhodes electric piano. (There goes that thrill.) An early take of "Hot Legs" has an identical musical arrangement, with a slightly different vocal approach. An alternate of one of Rod's better later hits, "My Heart Can't Tell You No," has a subtler string arrangement and a lot more space in its production. All great for one listen. This is the nature of this set. You really need to know the material well to appreciate the differences, otherwise you just won't notice.

Disc 4 is mostly covers recorded for and mostly not used for a string of not-so-great 90s records. You get 1 Paul Weller, 1 Chris Rea, 1 Elvis Costello, 2 Bob Dylan's, and a Jellyfish tune, the beautiful "I Wanna Stay Home," and the most offensive thing here, with Rod singing about two keys too high and sounding a little too much like Alfalfa Switzer. Disc 4 itself is not terrible, it's just Rod, who seems to have given up about 15 years too early, phoning in just about every performance.

As a whole, this is really a nice addition to any die-hard Rod fan's collection. But musically, there is nothing here that will keep you coming back. It's like sticking with a so-so book because you think something will eventually happen. And it doesn't.

COLTRANE: Side Steps

"Over the past three years, Prestige Records has released boxed sets of Coltrane's numerous sessions from the mid- to late-'50s, each spotlighting a specific dimension of his tenure with the label. Fearless Leader--released in September 2006, in celebration of Coltrane's 80th birthday--showcases his recordings as a bandleader. Interplay, released in September 2007, contains Coltrane's early collaborative recordings with a variety of stellar musicians from the same era."

The above was taken from the Coltrane press release for the third set in this series, "Side Steps," a 43 track, 5 CD set showcasing John Coltrane as a sideman between 1956 and 58 with some of Prestige's other...uh...prestigious artists.

There is some exceptional music here. This is a period where Coltrane was still mostly swinging and it's hard to find a bad moment. Sessions with Mal Waldron, Elmo Hope, Gene Ammons, and Sonny Rollins  (whose entire "Tenor Madness" album is here, with the great Red Garland on piano) are all included, and Disc Three with Donald Byrd, though not as a leader, has some truly fine moments, especially on the gorgeous "I've Got It Bad" and the epic, slow-burning "Soul Junction." Concord is also continuing its wonderful Rudy Van Gelder/Prestige remaster series with:

THELONIOUS MONK QUINTET: MONK (1953)SONNY ROLLINS WITH THELONIOUS MONK AND KENNY DORHAM: MOVING OUT (1954)RED GARLAND QUINTET WITH JOHN COLTRANE: DIG IT! (1957)

The whole package could make some jazz fan a very happy camper come Hannukah....

--Sal Nunziato

The Mail

Name: Maureen Holland

Hometown: South Venice Beach FL

Stephen Carver asked a question here on October 23.

"Is there enough news in America to actually support a 24 hour 'news' network?"

Yes, Steven. See BBC. And then weep.

Name: William Johnson

Hometown: Middleville

RE: Is there enough news to support a 24 hour news network?

There may not be enough 5 minute stories to support a 24 hour news network, but there are enough significant issues that would do well to have more than the cursory reviews we have now. If we had stories like what populates some of NPR today, or longer then yes I think there is more than enough news to fill a 24 hour cycle. What we don't have is enough intelligence in the television media to fill a 24 hour cycle.

Name: William Johnson

Hometown: Middleville

RE: Is there enough news to support a 24 hour news network?

There may not be enough 5 minute stories to support a 24 hour news network, but there are enough significant issues that would do well to have more than the cursory reviews we have now. If we had stories like what populates some of NPR today, or longer then yes I think there is more than enough news to fill a 24 hour cycle. What we don't have is enough intelligence in the television media to fill a 24 hour cycle.

Name: Bob Rothman

Hometown: Washington, DC

To me, what was so outrageous about the Balloon story wasn't so much the first-day event coverage, but what came after. Yeah, the wall-to-wall coverage was excessive and disproportionate, and of course it was relatively trivial compared to events of more significance, and it showed once again that cable news cares deeply about white people who disappear...but at least it seemed to be a story. A boy seemed to be in danger, floating away, and then when the balloon landed he was missing.

But then when the boy turned up safe and never in danger, it was clear there was no story. Yet the cable folks went on and on about what a great story it was and how dramatic it seemed, and was it a hoax or not, and who was telling the truth and what was the background of the family. Come on, guys, There. Was. No. Story. Nothing to see here. Go home. But no. Sheesh.

Oh, and by the way, I remember seeing 14 Vermeers at the National Gallery of Art in 1998. What was going on in New York then?

Eric replies:

Actually, there were more than that. It was the greatest Vermeer show of all time.I lived in DC then, though it wasn't 1998 either. It was 1994 , and Washingtonian Newt Gingrich shut down the government so the National Gallery had to raise the money privately to show the Vermeers.

Name: Jim Celer Hometown: Omaha

"Origen Without The Effort"! The man's a genius. No, better--a writer.

Slacker Friday

We've got a new "Think Again" column called "It's a Bird. It's a Plane. It's...Cable News," and it's here.

My Nation column, about Obama and Fox News and the rest of the media, is called "Just Don't Call It Journalism," and that's here.

I did another piece on J Street for the IHT. It's called "Voices From the Wilderness" and that's here and then Le Monde Diplomatique asked me to do a podcast and that's here: Living on J Street.

Philly gets everything!

A bit over ten years ago, during the reunion tour, I had tickets to Philly and we had like the biggest snowstorm ever. (That morning, I ran into the amazing sight of one Victor S. Navasky braving these amazing elements to make it to, I kid you not, a Nation editorial meeting.) The show was cancelled, which was good, because an ex-friend, who had been an incredible dick about giving me (and Eli) a ride there, drove back and forth in the storm for nothing, thereby ever–so-slightly increasing my belief in a personal God who takes an interest in justice, however capriciously. But the show was rescheduled, not only for Bruce's 50th birthday, but also for the night I had terrific tickets for Tom Waits, who almost never tours, at the Beacon, which in those days, was literally a half a block from my apartment. And I had already seen about seven of these reunion shows.

What to do?

What would you do?

I went to Philly (got lost, per usual). Got there just in time to hear Bruce play "Fever" my favorite song, and the only one that has remained on my funeral list, throughout the decades. It's the only time I've heard it since maybe 1978, so that story has a happy ending. This year's decision not to go Philly does not have as happy an ending, but it's my own fault (and David Rudd's).

Anyway, this is really great: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DytO5K0rPu8&feature=channel

Not bad either: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H081gJWI6A&feature=channel

For moms, everywhere: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y08SB-YnQg0&feature=channel.

Now this from my friends at World Hunger Year:

A Once-In-A Lifetime Opportunity to Meet Bruce Springsteen and support charity! You can help support WHY's fight against hunger in the U.S. and meet The Boss on Saturday, November 7th @ Madison Square Garden in NYC. Take your pick of seats in the Pit or First Tier Loge section and enjoy VIP access to the E Street Lounge and best of all, personally meet and spend time one-on-one with Bruce Springsteen. All inquiries should be submitted to lcolacurcio@charityfolks.com. Minimum bids start at $10,000 and will be accepted until 6pm EST on Wednesday, October 28th. Experience is for two people. Donations are tax deductible above the face value of the tickets. Winner must be from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or Pennsylvania.

Alter-correction. The great Joe South wrote "I never Promised You a Rosegarden." But Chip Taylor wrote "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)" and "I Can't Let Go," for the Hollies. Also, an anonymous friend informs me: "Chip Taylor is one talented and strange guy. If you haven't heard his 2005 disc with Carrie Rodriguez titled "Red Dog Tracks," I urge you to do so. Bluesy folky country (or some other order of those genres and maybe some others) with some mind-stopping lyrics, great tight spare arrangements, the languid country-honey voice of Ms. Rodriguez, and some duets that grab my heart. Their Hank Wms cover of "I Can't Help It" is one cut I find myself listening to over and over. They pour a lot of emotion into a simple song and harmonize exquisitely. This disc has convinced several reluctant friends that they do likecountry music after all."

I bought it.

Here's the man:

CHARLES PIERCE
NEWTON, MA.

Hey Doc:

"Now it's hail Mary full of gin and sweet boneless Jesus / Our happyhome might never be the same."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Dixie" (Mike West)--I'll go on anynetwork to talk at length about how much I love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: As Interim Altercation Papist Correspondent, I, forone, would like to thank il Papa and the red-beanie Romanita crowd forthis latest bit of theological hooey. What a deal. We get a bunch of homophobic wingnutAnglican clerics, and out goes the rule on celibacy. Which the previouspope, dubbed "John Paul The Great" by Ms. Peggy Noonan (aka Origen WithoutThe Effort), insisted was necessary to maintain the Christ-like nature ofthe priesthood. (Yeah, yeah, I know.) However, when Holy Mother Church getsto strike a political and cultural blow against laymen who do bad thingswith their pee-pees--to say nothing of kicking back against Henry VIIIagain--the importance of "the undivided heart" and that of the "fruitful ministry" go right down the drain. Of course, His Eminence NutsyFagen here might disagree.

Postscript--There no longer can be any question. The WashingtonPost is trying to outflank The Onion as a news source. Of whom does thisloon have cheap-motel-and-a-goat pictures, anyway? If it's Parson Meacham,I don't want to see them, and if it's Sister Sally Of The BlessedSacraments Exposed, I probably already have.

Part The Second: Neither the Edwards, nor the Palin stuff shouldsurprise anyone. But I am intrigued by the rest of the list of historic Gallup plunges. What, for example, did Pope John Paul II do in a single month in 1998 that caused his numbers to tank 17 points? And, a decade ago, did I miss the moment in which Lamar Alexander knocked over an orphanage?

Part The Third: This is just not good. On the other hand, this is immeasurably worse. Get the blood off your hands, Ace, before you start lecturing your betters. (You did your damnedest to enable the"disaster" through the aftermath of which you now say Obama is governingthe nation. Foof.) And, even if this mess hadn't emanated from one of"liberal" America's most inexcusable chickenhawks , this line--"As forjournalists, you can hardly blame them for trying to inject some volatilityinto the Obama storyline."--would be proof enough that he should findanother line of work. I can blame them. It's not their job to "inject"anything into a "storyline." Jesus, this stuff used to be obvious.

Part The Fourth: Little Lord pissant has a lot of goddamn gall going near this at all. And Slightly Larger Lord Pissant here should know that thosecutesy-poo quote marks around the word caregivers are prima facie evidencethat you're pretty much a dick. One day in a chemo chair, Ace, and you'd be weeping and screaming for a spiff the size of a Louisville Slugger.

Part The Penultimate: I'm sorry, but I don't think believing thesepeople are dangerous, gun-toting fantasts "depends on (my) perspective" at all. I mean, get a load of this stuff. Detention camps? Foreign troops on American soil? "I refuse to cooperate with any order from the government that I must cooperate with giant metal lizards from space." And that's before you get to the end, which seems tobe a discreet incitement to mutiny. But, of course, they do have a fan who regularly plays the role of the Avuncular Old Fart Neighbor on Mr. Squinty'sneighborhood, the morning kiddie show on liberal cable network MSNBC. In a related story, alas for Pat, this old bastard is still dead.

Part The Ultimate: I have studiously avoided commenting at length onthe ongoing social, political, and cultural ball of snakes that is theIsraeli-Palestinian situation. This is largely because everything I read makes it seem increasingly intractable--Belfast with sand and several more millenia worth of tribal savagery and archaic religious enmity. Mechanized warfare against suicide bombers. The redoubtable Padraig O'Malley--who did so much good work prying various fingers off various throats in the north of Ireland--has waded into it, and good luck to him. But this latest development is sofrustratingly, damnably stupid that it is enough to make anyone throw up their hands. Demanding to be handed, and to be recognized as, a modern nation-state while simultaneouslyallowing barbaric monotheists to run amuck? How in the name of Odin (toemploy here, for rhetorical purposes, a relatively neutral Deity) does thisadvance any legitimate interest of a people currently living under thecircumstances of occupation? And, yes, I know what the effect ofconservative religion in Israel has been, thanks. What this place needs isfor every damned cleric living there to get on a boat and sail over the farhorizon for about 200 years.

Name: Michael Green
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

Our parable on Balloon Boy is that 32 years ago, on August 16, 1977,the lead story on the CBS Evening News (with Roger Mudd substitutingfor Walter Cronkite) was the Panama Canal treaty. The lead was notthat Elvis Presley had died that day.

I am inclined to think that was not good news judgment, becausePresley was an important part of our cultural history. And that isthe question the CBS News producers should have asked themselves thatday. Instead, they asked themselves what was most important to theAmerican people--not what mattered to them.

Whatever we say of the lunatics and slanderers on Fox News, theiropinion shows do focus on what they actually consider important. Thattheir viewers think what they are saying has even a modicum of truthto it is because the rest of broadcast news--not just Fox--has nosense of history, ethics, or journalism. In fact, I should deletepart of the previous sentence. The rest of broadcast news has nosense. Period.

Name: Merrill R. Frank
Hometown: Jackson Heights, NYC

Dr. Apparently the wretched spawn of the Nixon, Atwater and Rove"Southern Strategy" rears its ugly head again.

This brings to mind the 1978 South Carolina Gubernatorial racebetween Carroll Campbell and Max Heller. You summed it up welltwenty years ago.

"But of all the things of which he has been accused, he says, the onethat makes him the maddest concerns the charge of anti-Semitism inthe 1978 Congressional victory by the current Governor of SouthCarolina, Carroll A. Campbell Jr., over Max Heller, the former Mayorof Greenville and a Jewish refugee from Austria who had fled theNazis. Atwater's accusers claim that as an informal adviser toCampbell, he passed secret polling information to Don Sprouse, a third-party candidate, who then used the information to undermine Heller'scampaign. Political analyst Alan Baron has revealed that Campbell'spollster in 1978, Arthur J. Finkelstein, of Irvington, N.Y., told himthat his data showed South Carolina voters would reject ''a foreign-born Jew who did not believe in Jesus Christ as the savior.'' MarvinChernoff, a Democratic consultant in Columbia, claims that Atwaterspecifically told him of passing Finkelstein's secret poll toSprouse. Atwater denies all of it. Finkelstein and all of theCampbell campaign staffers contacted also deny the accusations. ButCampbell's campaign manager has since admitted to a late-nightmeeting with Sprouse representatives in a Greenville parking lotbefore the election, and the Finkelstein poll released by Campbelldid ask voters to compare how they would feel about a race between a"Jewish immigrant" and a "native South Carolinian."

You figure the younger generation in South Carolina politics wouldget over this idiocy but I guess they just get a pass by statingtheir "Unequivocal support for Israel", how funny Seinfeld is and howmuch they donated to Hadassah.

BTW: Limbaugh buying a share in a NFL franchise is akin toFather Coughlin wanting to buy a share of the Brooklyn Dodgersin the 1940's.

Name: Hulka
Hometown: San Francisco, CA

(1) Chip Taylor didn't write "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden";Joe South did.

(2) James Ellroy has historically gone out of his way to describehimself as a conservative authoritarian, but one wonders whetherthe events of the last few years haven't pulled him a bitleftward. The new novel certainly points in that direction.

Name: Ed Tracey
Hometown: Lebanon, New Hampshire

Professor, I cannot locate a photo of this on-line...but theOctober 12 issue of Sports Illustrated recounted how thepreviously-integrated NFL became an all-white league in the 1930'suntil after WWII (with Kenny Washington playing the role as thefirst re-integrator).

The one holdout was the Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall who kept his team all-white until the early 1960s (when the Kennedy administration told him he could not play in a publicly-supported stadium and discriminate).

Author Alexander Wolff included a photo with the caption "AmericanNazi Party members, with no evident sense of irony, demonstrated inDC with placards reading KEEP REDSKINS WHITE".

Name: Bill Miller
Hometown" Mill Valley, Calif.

All right, if there's to be no debate on who did the best Nobelstory, then we'll just say this was a pretty good one, too.

Name: Dave Richie
Hometown: Birmingham, AL

Dr. A,

This is for Pierce if you so choose-a few comments only a popecatholic could love.

Pierce,

re: Penultimate: Very much in agreement. Ever since they gave this"thing" to 3 of the most notorious terrorists of the twentiethcentury my interest has been very low. I believe there was a handshaking ceremony only accomplished because they simply could not takeany more of carter's platitudes.

But the comments posted below the linked post are, alone, worth theprice of admission.

As for Yeats, I am old enough to remember the list. It was not readto us but referred to often by Sister Mary Discipline, lest we strayinto a heathen movie house, followed by an admonishment to pray forthe Irish (catholic kid growing up in Indiana) and that sweet TerryBrennan for next weekend's game.

Ultimate:

In giving up on the death penalty several years back, I remarked tosome of my full moon conservative drinking buddies that it won't belong until the releases of innocent men in Illinois will pale incomparison to the list of executed innocent men and women. I cannotbelieve it has taken this long to prove/find the first. Still, theprosecutors and the the guv insist they were right. I guess you wouldhave to find a way to get to sleep at night. God knows the jurorscannot. The good sisters were right all along. "Boys and girls thedays of an eye for an eye need to end."

Pax Vobiscum,
Dave Richie

Name: JP
Hometown: SC

From the good Mr. Pierce, re: the death penalty.

"It's about killing people to make yourself feel strong, or safe, andabout bravely hiring people to do the killing for you."

Replace the phrase "hiring people" with "sending others" and thissentence very adeptly describes war as well.

Name: Stephen Carver
Hometown: Los Angeles

Loved the Think Again and Nation pieces which brought a question tomind: is there enough news in America to actually support a 24 hour"news" network? So much of what we are given as "news," asevidenced in the Michael Jackson and Balloon Boy stories, is dreck.Then we get several hours of talking heads spouting about politics;no news there.

Even in local news, I find that most of it is either about guns (andthe death they bring), gangs (and the violence they bring), new waysfor women to lose weight and what's gotten to me lately:advertisements for a network's prime time line up thinly disguised as"news stories."

Precious

We've got a new "Think Again" column called "It's a Bird. It's a Plane.It's...Cable News," and it's here

My Nation column, about Obama and Fox News and the rest of the media is called "Just Don't Call It Journalism," and that's here.

I did another piece on J Street for the IHT. It's called "Voices in the Wilderness" and that's here and then Le Monde Diplomatique asked me to do a podcast and that's here: Living on J Street.

Oh, and I really like the Tom Tomorrow cartoon here but I think it's long past time to lose the full beard. (Petey says: "Funny, you feel bad, but you look good...")

This Week on Moyers:

A damning report from the UN Human Rights Council on the violence in Gaza late last year has put Israel on the defensive. Bill Moyers talks with the man at the center of the storm, Justice Richard Goldstone, who despite working with many pro-Israel groups and Israeli institutions in the past has drawn intense criticism from some of Israel's supporters for his report, which said Israel's Defense Forces, as well as Hamas, may have committed war crimes in Gaza earlier this year. Goldstone is a renowned war-crimes investigator who's looked into human rights abuses in his native South Africa, as well as the former Yugoslavia, Argentina, and Rwanda.

Alter-recommendations:

1) If you go to the Met Museum now, you can see six Vermeers atonce, (and then walk down to the Frick and see three more, which makes nine, which is like, a quarter of all of them in the entire world....How are things in your city?) Seriously, the one they borrowed from Amsterdam to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Hudson's voyage has not been in this country since 1939 and it is a wonder. I will not even try to do it justice. While you're there, also terrific, but on a more earthly level is the great exhibition Robert Frank's "The Americans,"which, if viewed in historical context, is an amazing feat. Trust me, don't let these opportunities pass. Take a trip to the city, it's beautiful right now.

2) I really loved that Nick Hornby film, An Education. I also loved 35 Shots of Rum but that is going to be hard for you see.

3) James Ellroy's Blood's a Rover is also amazing. I am listening to it on audio and the reader is really terrific and the book has a power to it that is unique in my experience. It's the third part of a trilogy and I did not read the first two and someday I suppose, I will, but in the meantime, it is a brilliant meditation on recent American history, told from a left-wing paranoid--even for the Nation--point of view.

4) On the other hand, I hated, hated, hated Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice, which could be described similarly. I don't really like Pynchon, but I like a good detective mystery. But God, this book is just gross. And silly. I stopped after about 100 pages.

5) I like this record by Chip Taylor. It's called Yonkers, NY andit's on on Train Wreck Records. Taylor's father was a golf pro who pretended to be an FBI agent. His brother is the right-wing nut actor, Jon Voight and his other brother is a big famous scientist named Barry Voight. Taylor wrote "Wild Thing," "Angel of the Morning" and "I Never Promised You a Rosegarden." Can you believe the same guy wrote those three songs? Anyway, he is nostalgic about many of the same things about which I am nostalgic. And so this is a winner.

6) The Definitive Vince Guaraldi. (Fantasy) You may know the guy as the fellow from "A Charlie Brown's Christmas," which everybody who knows anything knows is great. Well, that whole album is on the second cd of this collection and the rest of it is really pleasant and occasionally interesting and always tasteful. It'll probably put you in a good mood if you put it on.

7) The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers, and the Lessons of Anti-Communism by Michael Kimmage, (Harvard University Press) The redoubtable Michael Kazin says "Michael Kimmage is an old-fashioned intellectual historian, and I mean that as a compliment. What is more, he is a real writer. His extraordinary book is one of the few studies of the making of Cold War liberalism that is as alive to personality and literary quality as to politics. He provides a fuller and fairer analysis of both men's work, with splendid comparative comments, than I have read anywhere else." Me, I just think it's really great. (Not recommended for people who think Alger is innocent, however.)

8) The Frankfurt School in Exile by Thomas Weatland, More solid, albeit a bit more theoretical intellectual history of the period inwhich America grew up and joined the rest of the world. Worth the effort.

9) The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Fifth Season. The thing I just noticed about this show is that aside from Rhoda, who got her own show, everybody stayed. This was one of the best things about the seventies and it's one of the few shows from then that is not depressing when you try and watch it today. It's three discs and I think about seventeen episodes. Now that all the Odd Couples are out, I's day all we have is Mary and Bob N to which we can look forward...

10) Ok, now here's a review of the new movie, Precious by our young Commie movie reviewer (and recent graduate of Brown University), Alison Fairbrother. If you want to complain about the review, complain to alison.fairbrother@gmail.com:

A father forces himself on top of a daughter with the words: "you're better than your mother." A mother throws a glass at the back of a daughter's skull. A daughter is force-fed plates of greasy food meant to keep her obese and make her feel unlovable.

This is the stuff of Precious, the devastating Lee Daniels film based on the novel Push by Sapphire, produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, and scheduled to open November 6.

Set in Harlem in 1987, the film begins with the tinkling of a music box, a child's eye view of the world from the back of a math class. Clareece "Precious" Jones (played brilliantly by newcomer Gabourey Sidibe) is an overweight, illiterate African American sixteen-year-old whose face holds both youthful promise and also flickers of deep despair.

Precious's math class induced daydreams are quickly intercut with her mother's assault at home, physical abuse that triggers vivid recollections of her father's sexual abuse, signified by pop-art-esque crackling of eggs in a frying pan, the murky bubbling of a thick soup, and the ominous grasping of a male hand for a jar of Vaseline. These hyper-real details are mixed with fantasy sequences: pounding R&B diva dance numbers, Precious surrounded by flashing bulbs in a sleek modeling studio, a handsome "light-skinned" man on a motorcycle beckoning to Precious from a sea of twinkling stars.

The fantasies are misleading, as what is remarkable about Precious is not her capacity to escape through make-believe, but her diligent and concrete efforts to construct an alternative reality based on her unwavering belief in herself.

Precious' talents are recognized by a principal who sends her to an "alternative" school, Each One Teach One, where the lovely "Miz Rain," (Paula Patton) instructs a small group of troubled teens in the ABCs. The girls at Each One Teach One provide comic relief, context, and seem genuinely moved by Precious' strength.

Daniels' camera weaves expertly in and out of Precious' consciousness, watching her through the Venetian blinds of her classroomor a rain-streaked window, and as she plods carefully along broad city avenues, navigating the hazards of idle men and rusted barbed wire fences. Other times we see the world through her eyes. In one particularly affecting moment, the camera moves deftly from Precious' mother's livid face down to a plate of oily pigs' feet that Precious is being forced to consume in the amber ill-light of their apartment in the projects. At other moments the city juts out at odd angles, as though Precious were cocking her head, wrought with emotion and fear. Most profoundly, the camera occasionally settles too closely upon Precious' face, judging her with the minute detail with which she must see herself.

Precious comes in a long line of contemporary American cinema that triumphs the value of a good teacher in empowering the disadvantaged. The act of storytelling, for the powerless, becomes a dramatic feat of empowerment that is nurtured by a passionate teacher who recognizes the value of creative expression and autobiography. Here too, Miz Rain--rendered nearly speechless by tears--tells Precious to write her story for the world. Still, the film doesn't follow the ordinary mold: we get the sense that it is not storytelling or teaching that saves Precious, it is her nearly super-human strength, tenderness, and capacity to love herself and her children despite every indication from her family that she is worthless.

Precious's strong sense of self is manifested in an interior monologue that obscures the voices of the other characters as she editorializes her experiences in real time. Her internal discourse can even rearrange the harsh and abusive ministerings of her mother into positive and uplifting messages. Early in the film, Precious's mother says, in heartbreakingly cruel tones, "don't nobody want you, don't nobody need you, you stupid bitch." Later, Precious will say to her own child, "Listen baby. Mother not dumb. Mother love you. Listen." Precious never fights to be heard, and this is perhaps an indication of the social vision of the filmmakers.

There are a few brief moments when wider social implications of Precious's situation sneak to the surface: Precious peers into the mirror hard enough to manufacture a thin white woman with blond ringlets; a social worker (Mariah Carey) attempts to reunite Precious with her mother and begins to cry when the mother says, "You sit there and judge me. You write these notes on your fucking pad about who you think I am." (At that moment this writer closed her notebook and capped her pen).

While it is clear that social work and welfare have failed families like the Jones', the film doesn't link the singularity of Precious's parents' abuse to failed systems and structural injustices. In fact, in the absence of the abusive father, the central evil figure is understood to be Precious' mother. The film does nothing to explain why her mother, played with incredible talent by Mo'Nique, is part of a long heritage of injustices that have left her angry, embittered, and violent.

Although film has no obligation to instruct, generate action, or dismantle ideology, I wondered whether this film might have been uniquely positioned to explain the role of American culture and history in creating abusive families dependent on welfare, and powerless to the point of seeking control through violence and rape. Through systematized racism and sexism we have allowed Precious' mother to heave a television set at her child; we have put the jar of Vaseline in Precious' father's hands. Precious makes it seem as though the familial abuse chronicled is merely the outcome of two malicious personalities who happen to have joined together to make a baby.

Daniels has done a good thing by finding a heroine in are markable African American youth, and I emerged from the film inspired and with a palpable respect for the singular story. Still, the beauty and affectiveness of Precious makes me wonder whether this film might have been able to move beyond the obvious question, "how could a mother abuse her child?" and dare to ask "how has America failed the Jones family?"

Slacker Friday

We've got a new "Think Again" column called, believe it or not, "I'llSee Your Testicles...' (Catfight on the Right)" and it's here.(though perhaps they changed the title later in the day)

Also, I did an op-ed on the move away from AIPAC-style politics forAmerican Jews for the IHT, which is up on the NYT site, here.

Classified section: I'm selling fifty or so Miles Davis cds--everything on Columbia during the key period--mostly in beautiful box sets, etc, and would love to sell the whole thing as a package. Email if genuinely interested. Also,I have two lousy seats for Bruce on 11/8 and one for 11/7 I need to getrid of. Email below....

Ok, here's Pierce

Charles Pierce
Newton, MA.

Hey Doc:

"Daddy ran whiskey in a big black Dodge/Bought it at an auction atthe Masons lodge."

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "My Mama Told Me So." (The B-3 OrganSummit): Price Waterhouse couldn't fake the numbers to calibrate exactlyhow much I love New Orleans.

Short Takes:

Part The First: Considering that the money behind the saintedAmerican Football League fifty years ago belonged to the Hunt family inDallas, the pre-eminent wingnut sugar daddies of the 1950's and '60's,it's pretty rich that, even in the beginnings of what may be acollective-bargaining armageddon, both the labor and management sides ofthe modern NFL have declined to be associated with the former JeffChristie. The weeping in the wingnuttosphere leaves me strangely unmoved. It does, however, move me to gales of helpless laughter. Dude, I am not. You are not. You are, however, an idiot.

Part The Second: There is no way I am not buying this. "Here comes Santa Claus/Here comes Santa Claus/Right down Highway 61."

Part The Third: My knowledge of Russian libel law is admittedlylimited, but I'm thinking this case is kind of a longshot.

Part The Fourth: Good nominees, I think this is a good list. But, check out the list of judges in the nonfiction category. Apparently,Waldo The Drunk Security Guard at Salon has a brother who works for theNational Book Foundation. We're damned lucky Glenn Beck isn't a finalist, Iguess.

Part The Penultimate: this was the best treatment of the whole Nobel business that I read anywhere. The Pooka McPhellimey and I will brook no debate on this point.

Part The Ultimate: The ongoing scandal in Texas regarding thatstate's eminently successful execution of Cameron Willingham has begunto fascinate me, even at a considerable distance. (For those of you whowant to get up to speed quickly, Josh's joint has done an exemplary job of aggregating the local reporting.) In brief, it appearsthat Texas, over the signature of Governor Rick (Goodhair) Perry--pace,Molly I.--executed a fellow who was most likely innocent and did so onthe basis of cheesy arson science apparently drawn from the extendedresearch of Professor Otto Yerass. It also appears that Perry signed offon the execution despite his being aware of the fact that the evidence wasso full of holes you could use it for a flute. I say these things "appear"to be true because there's an investigation going on down there, but it'sbeing hamstrung because, every time the probe gets too close to his ownpersonal nether regions, Perry fires another couple of the investigators.Perry, it should be recalled, is currently running for re-election in ahot Republican primary against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Token.)

What's disturbing--if undeniably compelling--about the case is theself-evident fact that Texas is apparently governed at the moment by acomplete fucking barbarian. The evidence suggests quite clearly thatPerry didn't give the hindquarters of a rat as to whether or not he wassigning the death warrant for an innocent prisoner. And the evidence quiteclearly suggests that Perry further will defy any attempt to judge his conductin the matter. What is even more disturbing is that there is almost nochance that the state-sanctioned murder of Cameron Willingham, an innocent man,will be any kind of an issue in that aforementioned primary hooley.(They're kinda/sorta upset about the cover-up ( but not the crime itself.) The Texas GOP is exclusively the province of the party's knuckle-dragging base--Check out the state party platform sometime. It will curl your hair--and that base doesn't care how many mistakes are made in the death chamber as long as it keeps humming.

In that sense, it was the stormy petrel of what came to pass for thenational Republican party once its various deals with various devilscame due. For the conservative "movement," the death-penalty never has hadanything to do with criminal justice. It was always about boosting yourpolitical testosterone count, or denigrating that of your opponents.It's about killing people to make yourself feel strong, or safe, and aboutbravely hiring people to do the killing for you. (Come to think of it.That's pretty much what the "movement" has for a foreign policy, too.)The governor of Texas likely arranged the death of an innocent man, eitherthrough deliberate neglect or through the abject dereliction of hisconstitutional duties. He is now engaged in a public cover-up thatwould have embarrassed H.R. Haldeman. That he still has a chance to stay inoffice is an indictment of our politics far beyond anything else thathappened this week.

Name: Ed Tracey
Hometown: Lebanon, New Hampshire

Professor, it's not on-line as near as I can tell -- but Terry Adamsonce explained why NRBQ hired Lou Albano as a 'manager' of sorts:"Some situations in life are challenging to deal with -- but TheCaptain knows how to handle things".

I, too, will "stick with the Guiding Light".

People Who Died...

We've got a new "Think Again" column called, believe it or not, "'I'll See Your Testicles...' (Catfight on the Right)" and it's here.

Also, I did an op-ed on the move away from AIPAC-style politics for American Jews for the International Herald Tribune, which is up on the New York Times site, here.

I'm getting to the age where the obituary pages are really starting to bum me out.  Wasn't AL MARTINO wonderful in the GF? Wasn't NAN ROBERTSON brave to go after the Times the way she did? Wasn't Stuart Kaminsky a fun read? But here is the one that really got to me. Captain Lou Albano. What a great guy, even better in reality than in the "ring" or on the sidelines as the manager of the great Bruno Sanmartino. But how could Mr. Goldstein omit the greatest tribute to Lou from this otherwise loving obit? It's Psychedelic Pandemonium.

Speaking of obits, did I mention that I was briefly in a reading group with Jim Carroll. Really nice guy. He never heard the Drive-By-Truckers' version of "People Who Died" and so I played it for him on my iPod. So history moves forward...

 

"Gonna Huey, Dewey, and Louie all over the room." Who's for legalizing sex with ducks? Me, David Rudd, and Garfunkel and Oates (but I hope not that juvenile druggist/anal rapist, Roman Polanski.

 

(By the way, did you notice that the above ducks all have rhyming names spelled totally differently?  Awesome, huh?)

This week on Moyers: Barack Obama was elected on a message of change, promising a new era ofdiplomacy and international cooperation - but can the President delivera new vision of America?  Reporting from the world's most troubledhotspots, Mark Danner has seen countless deaths over ethnic andpolitical divides, and witnessed firsthand how U.S. attempts to exploitthose conflicts have resulted in disastrous unforeseen consequences.Danner speaks with Bill Moyers about Obama's challenges in resetting themindset of America from war to peace, and redefining the US as a nation.Danner was a staff writer for many years at The New Yorker, contributesfrequently to the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Magazine,and his latest book is Stripping Bare the Body, which chronicles themoral history of American power over the last quarter century.  Also onthe program, the Journal profiles public health doctor America Bracho,who serves her Santa Ana, CA community - notorious for crime, povertyand disease - with her organization, Latino Health Access.

The Mail

Name: Todd Buck

Hometown: Lancaster, TX

We know who forged the documents. And yes, they were forged, andbadly at that. But that is not the only mistake which was made. Rather allowed his desire for the story to be true to blind him to the fact that he was being sold a bad bill of goods. He had multiple experts try to authenticate the documents. All of them were very skeptical, although one did say there was a slight possibility that they were legit. Rather decided to go with that one, instead of the vast majority. He had all the warning he should have needed. At best, this was very sloppy journalism, worthy of getting him fired. At worst, it is a partisan smear. I think the evidence is too vast to consider the former likely.

Name: Dave Ward

Hometown: Austin

I never hear about the Dan Rather-CBS dustup without remembering that never once did the Bush White House deny the substance of the 60 Minutes II report. They went straight to non-denial denials like "The President is proud of his National Guard service" and to declaring that the documents were forged. Most of the veterans I know would, if faced with an accusations like that, immediately call the accuser something along the lines of a lying sack of shit. Come to think of it, I never heard that from the Bush White House about any of the crimes they were accused of. Hmmm...

Name: Ben Miller

Hometown: Washington, DC

Mr. Alterman,

As I sit and watch/read so many Americans react angrily that their President won the Nobel Peace Price, just one week after I sat and watched/read so many Americans get satisfaction from the U.S. not getting the Olympics because the President wanted it, what is beginning to strike me the most isn't what I see/hear coming from those on the Right. We knew what these people were like for the most part, and knew that the people that loved George Bush and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove for 8 years were not going to suddenly change their ways. No, what is starting to strike me the most is how much hate for Obama and how much satisfaction from any of his perceived or real failures, I see and hear from people that I have known for many, many years. These are people that I would call my friends, and people that for years, I never knew they cared about politics, never heard them say one word on any issue either way. But now, suddenly, they do not miss one opportunity to complain about or bash the President.

Now, maybe this is a product of the economy, and when the economy tanked, it made people who never cared about politics care because they want to keep their jobs, or find a job, or afford their bills and pay their mortgages. I guess that may make some sense.

But I cannot help but think I am ignoring the elephant in the room--these people are just not comfortable with a black President. They may not be outwardly racist, and may never say something outwardly racist, because maybe they know better or maybe they themselves can't admit it. So, they will never say I want him to fail because he is black. But it is clear to me that for many of them, because he is black, they want him to fail.

Am I reading too much into all of this? Maybe, but I do not think so. Even in today's era of instant media, presidents are normally judged by bigger pictures, and when issues have not been about politics, we have all rooted for the President. They want to judge Obama like he was a batter, on every at-bat, and no matter what he does, they will say, "He hasn't done anything." Most of the leftiest liberals I know took some level of satisfaction when President Bush threw a strike in Yankee Stadium - yet now, there are large groups of people angry when their President won a prize acknowledging peace?

Name: Maureen Holland

Hometown: South Venice Beach FL

I admire Amy for her tenacity.

My recommendation? Amy, post your message each day to more ABC blogs. And NBC blogs. And CBS blogs. And many, many more (if you have time). And keep it the same message each day.

The Note has been pretty immune to the Democratic message for a long time (and Mark Halprin is now on ABC TV of course!). Keep it up Amy.  Broaden your audience. Messages do filter up.

And if The Note is your particular target, let us hope that the message comes to them sideways if it doesn't make it through their own front door.

Name: John Evans

Hometown: St. Paul

Re: The Note -- The internet has a special property not really found in other media; every single time you click over there, you increase their hit count, and measureably increase their economic value.

You know it's futile anyway, so don't do it. If reasonable people stop clicking over there, the Note will not be able to pose as anything other than what it is.

 Name:  Michael Green

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

If you want to know what is wrong with the mainstream media, go toYouTube for this link.

 

It is the final commentary that Eric Sevareid did for the CBS Evening News before retiring. It was a bit longer than usual for that reason. But it is about three minutes... of a man talking...  intelligently... telling the people how smart they are. And now we have Katie Couric interviewing Glenn Beck on the CBS Evening News.  Is it any wonder that more Americans trust Jon Stewart than the three anchors combined?

 

Name: Alan Urkowitz

Hometown:  Mount Laurel, NJ

Eric, this is in response to Charlie P's most recent Friday contribution, specifically the Part about Afghanistan.

Part the First. I have been shouting since 2001 that everyone should read James Michener's novel Caravans. It is based on his foreign service tour there in the early 50's. A great book, it describes the country as a land of shifting alliances, usually tribal but with all kinds of overlays. I know almost nothing else about Afghan history than what I read there and two things have been true: Nothing that has happened there has surprised me; and I have not been able to predict anything that has happened there (except the continuing powerof opium).

Part the Last. Everybody, political, military, ordinary citizen, is in the same boat I am, though they may not even know they are in that boat. Read Caravans, read Flashman, by George MacDonald Fraser, and get some knowledge about the boat. We still won't know what direction to sail.

Name: Steve Nelson

Hometown: Kent, WA

I have been offline for a while however I want to encourage dear Amy. I too tilt at windmills. I figure if there are enough of us then maybe truth will win out. Take heart that there are more of us out there.

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