Slacker Friday

Slacker Friday

On responses to "Kabuki Democracy," TNR and the mail.


I’ve got a new "Think Again" column called “Wall-to-Wall Craziness” about the role in the media played by the Wall Street Journal editorial page and it’s here.

The Nation has six responses to "Kabuki Democracy"  

Michael Kazin, "Building a Movement by Offering Solutions"

Barbara Ehrenreich, "The Corpo-Obama-Geithner-Petraeus State"

Norman Ornstein, "Ending the Permanent Campaign"

Salim Muwakkil, "Obama, The Right and Race"

Theda Skocpol, "Obama’s Healthcare Achievements"

Chris Bowers, "There Will Be No Silver Bullet"

I see Christopher is on Charlie Rose tonight. We debated Iraq a long time ago and someone recently sent it to me: “Alterman vs. Hitchens on Iraq on Charlie Rose.” 

Also, I’m for Newt.

Jonathan Chait appears to be making a run at Frank Foer’s job as editor of TNR. How can I tell? It’s the gratuitous and intellectually indefensible liberal bashing, obviously designed to win over the heart of liberal-hating (also, of course, Moslem hating) TNR self-appointed editor in chief, Marty Peretz.  Visceral liberal hatred was the top item of the job description of previous Peretz-appointed editors, Michael Kelly and Andrew Sullivan, and occasionally infected the early days of Peter Beinart before his post-Iraq conversion,  It hasn’t much appeared in Foer’s magazine, except under the bylines of Chait and Peretz. That’s why I see Chait staking out this territory. 

In support of Robert Gibbs’ crazy comments,  Chait recently blamed  "discontent liberal voters who thought that  President Obama’s election meant that his entire agenda would sail through uncompromised, or possibly even enhanced, by the legislative process."  Know anybody like this? Neither do I, but it does make for nice, Peretzian style slander of “liberals.” It’s of a piece with Chait’s earlier claim that Obama’s health care legislation was falling victim to what he called the "Delusional Left." But as I noted in this space, the entire "left" for Chait’s purposes consisted of one Jane Hamsher. I wrote back then: “Now Chait is not stupid. He knows that Hamsher represents a tiny, minority sliver of the left and that almost everyone of significance among liberals supports the health care bill albeit reluctantly in many cases. But he is dishonest in exactly the manner that appears to infect TNR writers and editors with surprising consistency through the years. Can it be a coincidence, for instance, that the very same magazine has made a practice for decades now of the deliberately and dishonestly misrepresenting the position of those on its left for the purposes of pretending that the Neocon view of things like Regan’s war in Central America, Joe Lieberman’s presidential hopes, the war in Iraq, whether criticism of Israel is evidence of anti-Semitism, etc is actually the only legitimate "liberal" view.. Hence the famous phrase "Even the liberal New Republic…." (And of course, Chait has done yeoman’s work, attacking J Street as well, so that base is covered.)

Anyway, this is how you become TNR editor, when Frank Foer one day either gets pushed out the door—remember Chuck Lane learned Marty had fired him from Howie Kurtz—or gets a better offer. So congratulations, Jon, in advance. It is an honor well-earned.

On a related topic, it appears that Harvard’s Social Studies department  is holding a dinner in honor of Marty Peretz at the Harvest on Friday, September 24th at 7 p.m to raise money. Now I am all for separating rich people from their money, though in this case, a lot of it is going to go to rich kids. (Hey Marty, how about restoring the salaries of all those underpaid TNR writers and editors you keep cutting?)  Marty is in the news again, here, though I am not up to the job of figuring out just what he’s done, I doubt it’s good. In the meantime, I hope someone at the dinner has the courage to congratulate Marty for his “courage” over the years in telling Americans what sub-human monsters all Arabs and most Moslems are. Matt Duss did the work a few years ago so you don’t have to, here but of course it could use (a great deal of) updating.

Here’s my fave, the one that says Arabs aren’t really people:

Marty Peretz, 11/19/06:

I actually believe that Arabs are feigning outrage when they protest what they call American (or Israeli) "atrocities." They are not shocked at all by what in truth must seem to them not atrocious at all. It is routine in their cultures. That comparison shouldn’t comfort us as Americans. We have higher standards of civilization than they do. But the mutilation of bodies and beheadings of people picked up at random in Iraq does not scandalize the people of Iraq unless victims are believers in their own sect or members of their own clan. And the truth is that we are less and less shocked by the mass death-happenings in the world of Islam. Yes, that’s the bitter truth. Frankly, even I–cynic that I am–was shocked in the beginning by the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq. But I am no longer surprised. And neither are you.

Note: Peretz, or more likely one of his minders, later pulled the post off of his blog.

But read them all, if you can stand it, (and maybe some enterprising student can hand them out at dinner). Great work, Matt

Stupid Email of the Day:

Dear Subscriber :

In Victor Baltov’s second book in his Baseball is America series, he stresses that if we don’t change back to our founding Christian principles in our actions and way of life (of which baseball has played a big part), and reject the secular ways concocted by mankind under the cover of political correctness, this country will surely lose its freedom.  Please let me know if you are interested in receiving a copy of Victor’s powerful book for consideration of an interview or to provide a review.  Thank you.

Lisa McEntyre
The Woodlands, TX



     "The sky, too, is folding under you/And it’s all over now, baby blue."

     Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: "Dirty Power" (Shane Theriot) — Say what you want about the Professional Left, but it’s never disputed about how much I love New Orleans.

     Part The First: There’s a lot of whoopin’ and hollerin’ and omigawdmooslimin’ about the new clock in Mecca. My friend P. Z. (The Wrath Of The Whatever High Upon The Thing) Myers disposes of the requisite non-science behind the whole enterprise. But, those of us who have spent many happy hours in Paris On The Menomonee know that both the Brits and the Saudis already have had their clocks cleaned years ago. Scoreboard, beeyotches!

     Part The Second: You know all those election night speeches where the person who lost graciously accepts defeat? Yeah, I don’t believe any of those bastards, either. Here’s how you lose in America, dammit. I am intrigued that, deep in this incredible eruption of sub-literate rage, the guy manages to pull "clodpoll" out of the ol’ vocabulary.

     Part The Third: On the other hand, how can a country in which Citizens United is the law of the land get fussy about what would have been the greatest bumper-sticker ever.

     Part The Penultimate: I swear to Aqua Buddha, no matter what the truth of this story turns out to be, this is one very, very weird dude here. And I don’t mean Cavuto.

     Part the Ultimate: As bizarre as the Tea Party folks are, at least most of the rank and file have the saving grace of being both sincere and utterly ignorant. I’ve grown far more sick of these folks than I have of Grandma and Grandpa Knownothing with the tea-bags on their hats and their deep concerns about the liberal bias inherent in astrophysics. Look, boys, you spent an awful lot of time, and got paid awfully well, in the service of an egregious public dunce. (And you, David Stockman, spent a lot of time and got paid awfully well stuffing the head of the primordial public dunce with the unmitigated hooey of conservative economics. You can shut up now.) You celebrated the gut over the brain, the id over the ego, the fake cowboy ranch over empirical reality. You lent your words to a towering act of intellectual fraud and you can shut up now for a while. It’s a little late to decide that y’all don’t have the belly for the irrational hooliganism running amuck in the party. You opened the door to the monkeyhouse, boys. If it were up to me, you’d both stand in the snow outside of Al Gore’s house until he granted you plenary indulgences.


The rest of the mail:

Steve Milligan
Colorado Springs, CO

"Norman" sung by Sue Thompson:  worst song ever.

Bob Rothman
Washington, DC


I’m sure your list of worst songs will generate a lot of arguments and additions to the list. I won’t add mine, but I want to point out that Dace Barry wrote a whole book (well, a thin one) on it:  His top choice? Macarthur Park, which is so insipid that the "singer," Richard Harris, even gets the title wrong.

Eric replies: MacArthur Park is a great song.

George Liddle, III
San Diego, CA

Dear Dr. Alterman,

If you ever link to the Washington Times again for any purpose but the announcement of its demise, I will stop reading your blog forever and not look back.  I trusted you, sir.

Eric replies: I didn’t but whatever… pass the bong, dude.

Editor’s Note: To contact Eric Alterman, use this form.

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